2003-01-11 / Columnists

Health and Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

The Night The Lights Went Out In Rockaway

It was Christmas Day, 2002. My family was gathered around the tree. There was a glowing fire in the fireplace and a rousing game of Monopoly was under way. I had intended to order in Christmas dinner as we had just returned from my father-in-law's funeral in Florida. That light had gone out in our lives. It's interesting about the light. My father-in-law always made people laugh. He kept it light. Laughter brings light into people's lives. It's light - hearted. I'll always remember him in that light.

We sat shiva in the interfaith family style. By the light of the fire, the light of the tree and the light of the yahrzeit candle. A unique trilogy. A testimony to the union of our marriage, our faith and our family. The lights of our lives. The guiding principles.

As darkness descended and threatened to obscure vision of my hard won monopoly of both utilities and railroads, I noticed that the storm outside was raging and food delivery was not an option. Just as I made the crucial decision of rigatoni over plebian pasta, the lights went out. Flickering on a moment later, we had hope, hopes that were dashed as time went by and Rockaway was plunged into darkness. It's interesting about the darkness. Darkness has a habit of wending it's way to despair. Memories of the darkness visited upon Rockaway in the wake of 9/11 when so many of our loved ones were lost. Memories of Rockaway ensconsed in the darkness of smoke from the airplane crash on November 12 and more of our loved ones lost. Fears tend to loom large in the darkness and this night the fear that this darkness was yet another act of terrorism was felt by us all.

We sat by the light of the fire and the yahrzeit candle. Two symbols of the tenuous nature of light. One needing to be constantly stoked. One designed to keep the vigil of mourning. Both beacons beckoning us back to the place where light began. The Divine spark giving us creative potential and the light to show the way, even unto the end of our days. The polarity of life and death.

Living in the darkness prompted my children to ask a litany of questions about electricity, it's generation and it's myriad uses of which we had now become acutely aware. No refrigeration, no stove, no heat, no hot water and no light. Living in the darkness is a hardship. As we scrambled for blankets, candles and whatever food we could forage from the empty fridge, the phone rang. Our neighbors were having a Christmas party, had plenty of food and invited us to join them.

As there were no streetlights to guide us, Zaidee led the way by the light of the yahrzeit candle. As the candle flickered I felt him laugh at the unorthodox trek. Warmly entrenched in the midst of friends, sharing a birthday celebration and the welcome repast, we sat, in the light of the candles, the light of the sterno and the light of friends.

The night the lights went out in Rockaway, I was illuminated. The light of faith, family and friends is sustaining. It got us through the night. A metaphor for the living of life. Creating relationships that sustain us. Beginning with the darkness, cultivating our higher selves to become more and more of ourselves until we are fully human and able to live life to the utmost of our soul's purpose, shining like a beacon of light and giving back to humanity. We are all part of the human family. We are not disconnected. By the tendrils of our souls we are all connected. We create sustaining relationships by sharing our humanity, shining our light, thereby raising the consciousness of the whole world. Becoming whole is becoming healthy. Health is harmony. Harmony is the music of the cosmos, all things working together in a beautiful symphony of vibrating light. For our good and the good of everyone. And it's all a matter of finding our way back. Out of the darkness. Into the light.

The night the lights went out in Rockaway, I found the Light of the World. And, I'll never be afraid of the dark again.

May the Blessings Be!

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