When ships cannot see the shore because of bad weather or fog, they look for a light from a lighthouse. This light will guide them to safety. We can be like a lighthouse, shining our light. We can help people feel less scared and give them hope.
A few weeks ago, I was at an assisted living facility providing hospice massage therapy for a patient. After the visit, I took the elevator down to the first floor. In the elevator was a small man in his eighties. He looked up at me and mumbled something. I didn’t understand him. I asked him to repeat what he said. Then he said that he doesn’t want to live anymore with tears in his eyes. He said he doesn’t want to live in this kind of world. I took his hand and walked out of the elevator with him. After walking a few feet, I held my hand to his heart, and I said, “Be strong in here and pray every day.” He agreed to pray every day. The man continued to tell me his frustrations. I listened as I stayed in the present moment.
I looked for someone to help the man. I looked in the office for a nurse or director, but no one was there. I wish I could have spent more time talking with this sad man. However, I tried to give him hope. I know that he saw me in scrubs, so he knew I was a hospital worker. Maybe he felt safe telling me his feelings. Or perhaps he could feel my loving energy.
After that brief encounter, I sat in my car. I felt tears stinging my eyes. I felt sad for a few moments. I connected with this man’s grief, and I felt the world’s grief. I was open to the experience. Pema Chodron says, “The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos. Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises.” We can be open to the experience with a wise and compassionate response.
Last week, I went to see the same patient. When I left his room, the man who was so sad was standing near the elevator – like he was waiting for me. I asked him, “How are you feeling?” He said, with a smile, that he was feeling much better. I was so thankful.
I was like a lighthouse – bravely shining my light. You, too, can shine your light. The people around you will feel your love, your bravery, and your guidance.