Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. –Rumi
On New Year’s Eve, I was asked if I’d made any New Year’s resolutions, and I mentioned this quote from Rumi that I’d recently seen and loved.
I think that mostly I’m a lamp, and sometimes a ladder or a lifeboat–but it’s difficult to accurately assess your own contribution, or anyone else’s, for that matter. It’s often impossible to know what impact we’re having, or will have. But it is possible to know whether I’m creating light, or darkness … that much I can tell.
I remember a coworker from years ago who told me she volunteered at a suicide prevention hotline. I’m not sure whether it occurred to me then, but it certainly does now, that she must have had a very particular reason for choosing that volunteer opportunity. She was a lifeboat.
We can, though, be lifeboats without ever knowing it. I’m reminded of an account in Michael Newton’s fascinating Destiny of Souls, which I’ve written about before. (Michael Newton’s story is somewhat similar to Brian Weiss‘s. He was a highly skeptical hypnotherapist who was into science, not new age stuff, when he accidentally regressed a subject to a time frame he didn’t even believe in–one prior to the subject’s current life. His work is different than Weiss’s in that he focuses fairly exclusively on the period between lives, from death to reincarnation.)
In the account I’m thinking of, when the subject completed his life, he learned that one of the most important accomplishments of his lifetime occurred when he stopped one day on the street to comfort a woman who was crying in despair. Had he been asked to list his accomplishments, that day wouldn’t have even crossed his mind–but on that day, he was a lifeboat.
How we interact with other people is key, but I believe being a lifeboat applies to all sentient beings, such as the many cats and dogs who cross our paths. I brake for squirrels and birds, and the life of every lizard in my garden is important. Caring for animals who need our help, even keeping an organic garden, is another way to be a lifeboat.
Being a ladder is, I think, a bit tricky. To me, it is saying, Here’s a possible next step, a higher vibration, love rather than fear, a way to lift yourself higher, to move forward. But in every case, the choice to see by the light of the lamp, to step into the lifeboat or onto the ladder, is not ours. People, even animals–who in my experience are often easier to reach–can and do refuse the light and the help at hand.
Even so and nonetheless–be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
There will be days when, to put it bluntly, it will seem that no one is interested in your light. There will be days when people overtly choose the darkness. That can be heartbreaking–but shedding light in darkness is its own reward.
If you persist, there will also come a day when you find out you’ve made a difference–that someone has seen by your light, stayed afloat, climbed a rung of your ladder. That is a truly wonderful day.
Whichever kind of day it is, each day of this new year, I want to be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
This post is illustrated by the SoulCollage card I made today.
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