I find the ‘Light House’ to be a versatile metaphor. Today, I feel able to share a personal anecdote about how it’s symbolism grew in significance for me.
Six years ago, I was consoling my sister.
Sameer had just passed away and the amazing and loving person that he was, he left many of us grappling with questions about life and death. He had been diagnosed with chronic renal failure at a relatively young age. Surviving the first episode with his brave and philosophical attitude, after a highly difficult couple of years, he recovered well enough to live a ‘normal’ life for some years. However, at the age of 35, the relapse took him to death’s door several times. After nearly four years on dialysis, he finally opted for freedom from his ailing body on Teacher’s Day – September 5th.
An appropriate death anniversary date, if there is such a thing. Because throughout the eleven years that I knew him, Sameer was one of the most amazing masters I have ever known. He taught by demonstration. He lived to love and loved to live.
So that night, I sat with my sister, trying to share with her, whatever we had learned of life. ‘To make sense of any of this, you have to look at the larger picture’ – I tried telling her. ‘While it was a challenging life and an apparently unfair, early end to the life of someone who deserved to live for so many reasons, Divine Order prevails. On his soul journey, and ours – those of us who are irreversibly influenced by all of this, his life and death served to help us all grow. It’s a part of our soul journeys. This was just one lifetime… the soul is eternal.’ I continued in this vein, but I was not able to reach her.
She was disconsolately changing channels on the television, which was on mute. Trying not to hear me. She didn’t want to agree with any of this. The emotions were still raw and recent.
Perhaps to make me keep quiet, she gave volume to the show she had stopped at. It was a documentary about a light house. The caretaker – an elderly gentleman, was showing a group of young children how the lighthouse functioned. The commentary had an eerie similarity to what I had been saying. How the light looked out for the many sailors around and it was the joint responsibility of the caretaker and the sailors to keep the area safe and navigable. The caretaker by keeping the light functioning and the sailors by looking out for it.
My sister and I looked at each other and wondered at what was to come. By this time, we had already had several inexplicable ‘co-incidences’ happening around us in our lives.
The caretaker then began to emphasize how important it was for him to maintain the cleanliness of the reflectors and the light. That it was imperative to constantly shine and polish this ‘inside’ equipment, so that the light would always beam cleanly and strongly into the outer world. On dark and stormy nights, the sailors panic and cannot see the rocks. And then he said this unforgettable line – ‘When the night is darkest, the light shines the brightest.’
At that moment, the lights went out.
There was a huge explosion-like sound and the lights went out for as far as we could see from my apartment. We both sat in stunned silence, the last words replaying in our head. After about five minutes, my sister softly said that it sounded like an area transformer had blown, so electricity wouldn’t be back for several hours at least.
For some strange reason, I knew that was not true. I confidently asserted, the lights will be back right away – and with my sense of ironical humor, I repeated the show’s line aloud for dramatic effect.
What followed was one of those weird, inexplicable things that have now become routine for me. As soon as I finished my sentence, the lights came flooding back.
The television came on with loud sound, and the program was still on. Now here is the incredible part – the show had not gone on. It had rewound. God knows from which part of the world that channel was being telecast, it certainly was not in my vicinity. And these were the days before ‘replay’ and recorded television. But instead of the show having moved on – it had gone back to the caretaker explaining how important it was to keep the inside equipment clean. And the dramatic line played again – and believe it or not – the lights went out again. This time I did not expect them to come back for a while.
My sister and I sat discussing and assimilating the implications of this ‘message’ for us in the moment. Electricity did return, but after a couple of hours.
I have no way to explain any of this.
But I do believe that the universe is always talking to us, and somehow – this whole episode helped me to reinforce my learnings up to that point.
Death is an unarguable inevitability. And there will be questions and emotions when a loved one moves on. However, those who stay behind – can celebrate the life lived. Through greater love, deeper understanding in their own lives. After all, all growth comes through challenges.
As far as I can tell – the outer world is only a reflection of our inner world.
Do the inner housekeeping and let your light shine out brightly.
As dark as the night may seem, light will always dispel the darkness. Keep your sights towards the light house within.
It took a while, moving from resignation to consolation to acceptance – but I have come to believe that Divine Order does prevail.