Life is like a map with many paths laid out before us. We start from home and explore
the surrounding landscape one path at a time. Each time we venture away, we learn
more and the landscape around us becomes richer and filled with detail. Some paths
are wide and smooth, taking us far. Others are narrow, rocky, and difficult to travel.
Sometimes there’s a great view at the end; sometimes just a bunch of hungry
mosquitoes and blisters on our feet. But no matter where we go, we always have
home to return to.
Home is our base. It is everything that is familiar to us; it is the place that anchors us.
On a map, we know where home is by the familiar landmarks that guide us. The
largest of these we can always see--no matter where we go--and that is how we orient
ourselves and find our way in life. No matter whether we are coming or going, we know
where we are and what direction to head, based upon those landmarks.
On each of our individual life maps, the major landmarks are our family members and
friends. We are never lost on our life journeys because we have our landmarks to
guide and anchor us.
So what happens when the landscape changes? What happens when one of our most
important reference points is removed? What happens when someone who has always
loved and anchored you, is gone? The map has changed. The landscape is new, and
it’s different. It’s unfamiliar and we don’t know how to navigate now without that
major, always there, always visible landmark in our lives.
So what now? How do we go forward?
Now, we turn on the light within us and use it to find our way. You see, we each have a
light within us, its brightness fed by all the little things that the people who love us
have embedded in our lives--that generosity, that putting others before ourselves, that
ability to see things from different perspectives, that joy of learning something new
every day, that peace in seeking God. Whatever the talent, attitude, perspective, or
trait it is that your loved one has gifted you, that is a light, and we shine that light on
the path in front of us and use it to find our way. We use that light to show others what
our loved one was like. We carry that light, and that light carries us.
We are travelling in unfamiliar territory right now because we are sad, disoriented, and
lost. But our lights shine a little brighter today because of what we have inside of us from the people we have lost and because we have lots of people around us to help us
find our way. So we are not as lost as we might think today. Our eyes just haven’t
quite adjusted to the dark, and we can’t quite see the light shining on the path before
us. But the light is there, and it will guide us, like it always has before.