What Does Your Lantern Illuminate?

Center for Spiritual Living Metro, 28 October 2018

SONG (Bob Sima): Map in My Lap, from Periphery

It is time for a road trip. What is the first thing we do? We get our map in our lap and a plan in our head. We make sure everything is spelled out for us to successfully reach out destination. But… what happens between point A and point B can often be the most important moments of the journey, and affect the experience at the final destination.

MentalFloss.com shares a version of the legend of Jack, who has inspired what we know today as the Jack o’ Lantern:
———Stingy Jack – often described as a blacksmith – invited the devil to join him for a drink. Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for the drinks from his own pocket, and convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin that could be used to settle the tab. The devil did so, but Jack skipped out on the bill and kept the devil-coin in his pocket with a silver cross so that the devil couldn’t shift back to his original form. Jack eventually let the devil loose, but made him promise that he wouldn’t seek revenge on Jack, and wouldn’t claim his soul when he died.

Later, Jack irked the devil again by convincing him to climb up a tree to pick some fruit, then carved a cross in the trunk so that the devil couldn’t climb back down (apparently, the devil is a sucker). Jack freed him again, on the condition that the devil once again not take revenge and not claim Jack’s soul.

When Stingy Jack eventually died, God would not allow him into heaven, and the devil, keeping his word, rejected Jack’s soul at the gates of hell. Instead, the devil gave him a single burning coal to light his way and sent him off into the night to “find his own hell.” Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has supposedly been roaming the earth with it ever since.———

“And my headlights only show me just what I need to see. They don’t let me get too far ahead of myself because I’m right where I need to be.”

We may have a destination planned, but the only way to get there is following the part of the path that you can see in each moment. We make innumerable choices along the way. We can attempt to bypass or cut corners but we will always have to find our way back to the intended path to reach the planned destination, and our decisions made along the way will inevitably join us when we reach point B.

Even with the end in mind, we still have to experience everything that leads us to that moment. The question is, are our eyes so focused on the destination, the “prize”, that we miss everything in between?

In the epic Sanskrit poem of ancient India, Mahabharata, Arjuna is being taught archery by his guru along with other students.

———The guru, Dronacharya, hung a wooded crow, from a tree branch and then summoned his students. Telling the students to aim for the crows eye but first to explain what they see. The first student approaches and the teacher asks the student “What do you see?” The student says, “I see the garden, the tree, the flowers, everything!” The teacher asks the student to step aside and not to shoot. He asked the next student and was told something similar, “I see the air and leaves blowing in the wind.” The guru Dronacharya asks a few more students and they all have similar replies.

Then came Arjuna, when Arjuna was asked what he saw he said, “The only thing I can see is the crows eye.” Guru Dronacharya said, “Release your bow.” And Arjuna hit the crow in the middle of his eye. ———

So the question is, what are we so hyper focused on that we might miss the mark that is hanging right in front of us? What is your focus, your lantern, illuminating for you?

I invite you into meditation. Glimpse into a situation that you might have made different choices had you opened to the larger picture that was illuminated before you. Ask yourself if you missed anything that might have been obvious had you turned your lantern onto it. Ask yourself if what is illuminated having gone through the situation is part of your gift box of life lessons. What is your lantern illuminating about the situation itself?

SONG (Bob Sima): Periphery, from Periphery

What is your lantern illuminating?

This time of year is ripe for connections to the spirit world. We want to welcome in those who wish to send us messages through the veil, yet ward off those who have undesirable intentions.

At this time of the year, we have been taught to don our spaces with carved pumpkins and scarecrows and ghosts. We encourage children to dress up and go trick-or-treating. Even if we do not understand the origins of Halloween, we have bought into the symbolism of the All Hallow’s Eve celebration. Without the true “end” in mind, we actually get lost in the periphery of the commercialism and activities we have come to learn. We have lost sight of the “prize” or the final destination.

That does not change the intention or the outcome. When we follow these traditions, we are encouraging the “evil spirits” to stay away as we welcome in those benevolent messages from departed ones on the other side. The question is, are you ready and available to receive?

All Soul’s Day was intended to honor those souls who have left this three-dimensional plane. In taking the time to celebrate when the veils are thin between worlds, the messages can come through in visceral fashion. They may be a scent that passes under your nose to remind you of a family elder. They may be a symbol that continues to present repetitively over the next few days. They may be a nudge to open your keepsake box and review some photographs or other memorabilia from an old friend. The spirit world is clever and relentless when they want us to receive a message from them.

What is your lantern illuminating?

On this road trip of life, we follow our headlights at times. Sometimes we get lost in the periphery. Sometimes we miss everything around us because we are so focused on the goal.

One thing that does not become affected is our memory of loved ones that we have said goodbye to in physical form. It is rarely the details of their lives that we recall, as devilish or as angelic as they may have been. Our recall is about how they lived their life, how they made us feel, how they influenced us, how they challenged us, how they hurt us, how they loved us. 

However they showed up was part of the road trip we shared with them. In reality, they have given away little pieces of themselves to us along the journey. 

The fun of the human brain is that we can illuminate their presence within us however we choose. I hold hope that we can find the lessons and the blessings that they shared, regardless of the package they delivered it in.

What is your lantern illuminating?

This time of year is a time to honor all those souls who have moved out of their body, but remain in our consciousness. The good, the bad, the indifferent. If there was a memory made, the moment was significant to our growth as we show up today and our potential evolution who could show up tomorrow.

What is your lantern illuminating?

Poem (adapted) from Dejan Stojanovic:
——— To hear never-heard sounds, 
To see never-seen colors and shapes, 
To try to understand the imperceptible 
Power pervading the world; 
To fly and find pure ethereal substances 
That are not of matter 
But of that invisible soul pervading reality. 
To hear another soul and to whisper to another soul; 
To be a lantern in the darkness 
Or an umbrella in a stormy day; 
To feel much more than know. 
To be the eyes of an eagle, slope of a mountain; 
To be a wave understanding the influence of the moon; 
To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves; 
To be an insignificant pedestrian on the streets 
Of crazy cities watching, watching, and watching. 
To be a smile on the face of (another) 
And shine in (their) memory 
As a moment saved without planning.———

SONG (Bob Sima): The Measure, currently unreleased