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Light Sources Dark Sources

Light Sources Dark Sources

Hello and good day!

I work in our chocolate shop with my brother Brian every Saturday morning from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

We call it our owner's shift.

I am in the shop just about every day because overseeing the retail operation is a part of my job responsibility.

However, Brian runs a whole different part of our operation.

He oversees cacao buying and processing in Peru, online order fulfillment, and customer service for our online customers.

It seems that Brian stumbles upon the same realization just about every Saturday morning.

Working in the chocolate shop is very uplifting.

It's a happy place.

Parents come in with their little kids.

People of all ages and every imaginable ethnicity come by to drink free hot chocolate, or eat a free frozen banana dipped in chocolate, taste samples, chat, and shop.

We always have on good music.

We keep the place clean and well lit.

And we go overboard attempting to provide great customer service.

Brian and I got to chatting yesterday and during our conversation he expressed why he likes working the Saturday shift so much.

I'd always thought it was mostly because he gets to spend one on one time with his little brother, who he loves so much.

But that isn't the thing.

He said that when he works in the shop, he feels that he is shining some much-needed light into the world.

Life never goes exactly how you want it to go.

There are trials and tribulations.

There is always bad news available to consume.

I haven't lived a single year of life when there wasn't a war going on somewhere.

Every new cacao harvest presents difficult challenges to overcome.

Last year, the normally bone dry northern Peruvian coast was flooded with a historically large quantity of rainfall.

Sitting water accumulated, which provided spawning grounds for mosquitos.

100,000 people came down with Dengue fever.

In addition to being a health crisis, this affected our logistics and required savvy maneuvering to get our cacao to the port of Lima for export.

The world cacao price is at an all-time high this year and it keeps going up!.

My heart rate speeds up with stress every time I look at the price chart.

There will be an acrimonious presidential election this year.

One of our wonderful customers just found out that she has a brain aneurism, and she is scared, because she is a widow and alone and doesn't know who will take care of her if she gets sick.

Also, I am going bald at an alarming pace.

To add insult to injury, my paltry remaining hair is going grey.

A couple of months back, I was standing in front of a store with my three sons, ages 11, 8, and 5. My wife was inside shopping.

We were outside waiting and killing time.

A passersby walked past and stopped to admire my adorable boys.

She looked at me and said, "are these your grandchildren?"


I was wearing a hat and all that she could see was my completely grey side hair.

This is why the world needs light shined into it.

When you feel young, but people keep telling you that you look old, you need some light.

When you turn on the news and everything you hear is bad, you need some light.

When you are alone and scared and don't know what to do, it is nice to know that there are people who you can turn to.

At Fortunato Chocolate, our team is friendly, the hot chocolate is always free, there are plenty of samples to taste, and we're open seven days a week.

Come on by and stay a while if you ever find yourself in Issaquah, WA.

Shining light can be anything a person does to offset darkness.

Here is an example that I saw recently that I thought took a lot of courage.

I was in a park with a bunch of friends. The park was a real beauty, and the day was beautiful. The sun was out, and a cool breeze was blowing.

Children were running around on a big grass field.

A thick river that I didn't even know existed curved through the center of the park, its dark blue water rippling strongly and steadily by.

It was one of those days and one of those scenes that is so peaceful and idyllic that it almost doesn't feel real.

I was standing in a parking lot with friends behind a truck with its trunk popped open.

Inside the trunk there were bountiful refreshments.

Each of us had brought something and the potluck offerings were varied and delicious.

Yes, life was looking pretty good, what with the river and the friends and the grass and the food and the weather.

And then the ruffians showed up.

They came speeding into the park in a beat-up old jalopy. Their music was turned up to full volume. Baseline rattled the trunk.

I don't recall having ever heard so many profane lyrics woven together one after another. It's not my job to judge anybody's taste in music, but it isn't right to blast profanity when kids are around.

That is my view anyhow.

They parked.

I watched one of the youngsters get out and immediately throw an armful of garbage onto the ground.

Minutes later, the smell of marijuana smoke was all around us.

One form of darkness is making everybody around you feel uncomfortable.

You take a scene where people are loose and relaxed and enjoying the day to the utmost, and you make them tense and nervous and preoccupied.

The whole thing reminded me of when a big fight breaks out during Thanksgiving dinner.

Anyhow, these guys were oblivious to how they were making everybody feel.

Or they knew and didn't care.

Lest you think I am an old fuddy duddy, believe me when I tell you that as a young man, I smoked more marijuana than I care to remember, and I listened to my fair share of loud, profane music.

However, I am proud to say that I had the couth not to ruin a nice, clean, family scene with my peccadillos.

I would do that kind of thing in an empty park or on an empty stretch of beach where we wouldn't be an imposition or ruin anybody's good time.

There we stood, in the parking lot, saddened, and making arrangements to pack up and go home, when a fellow in a long white gown, a skull cap, and with a thick black beard walked up to the offending group.

If I had to guess, I'd venture that he was a Muslim religious leader.

He had come with a big group of kids who were playing soccer on a long grass field. Very softly and very kindly, with a nice smile, he motioned with his hands toward the kids on the field, and to our group standing in the parking lot.

He motioned to the ground and the garbage.

He put his hands together in front of his chest, palm to palm, as if requesting a special favor.

Nobody else but me was watching the scene unfold, but I looked on with keen interest.

I'm always looking for a good story.

The young offenders looked at the man incredulously at first.

Then they nodded, cleaned up their trash, got in their car, and drove off.

The man in the gown with the black beard had been a source of light.

I watched him walk back to the field where his boys were playing soccer.

He had a very upright posture and a holy gait.

The young weed smokers, who I no longer considered ruffians, became sources of light as well.

They were humble enough to listen.

And they changed their behavior such that their happiness didn't require others in the vicinity to sacrifice their own sense of well-being.

In little ways and big, we all get to decide if we will be a source of light or a source of darkness.

Which will we choose?

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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