Life was coming to a close.
This body was tired, torn battered and bruised by these 79 years. He lay in this hospital bed, wretched with regret and fear. Few friends were around him now and as is often the case family drift and move across nations - regular contact is now permeated through social channels.
The nurse came into the darkened room, the curtains were pulled to, creating a sanctuary from the glare of the outside world. A world that for this man was fading.
The nurse attended to his pulse and smiled sweetly - there was the luminance of life to her movement - she was young, gentle and supportive. He had noticed her a few times in the last few days. She stood out to him – ‘always open’ he noted as she walked into his room. As he lay within the crumpled sheets - He returned from one of the ever more frequent mental sojourns and looked down at the crumpled state of his body. In that moment of seeing and feeling his body he drew a wheezy and laboured breath.
He drifted in and out of sleep and rest. He looked past this frail and used body lying beneath his eyes and began to recall a young boy, nimble and playful. His saw his hand sparkling as he deftly raced between tree branches and trunks. In his hand was a silver box and the boy was maybe 4, maybe 5 years old.
The wood was in full bloom and bluebells hung, dancing in the gentle summer breeze. Yelps of joy rang loud into the woodland - no other could be heard. The old man remembered how this young boy moved in such joy, open and liberated, his vibrancy was palpable. A shadow of regret started to creep across his memory, his breathing became tense, but he called a stop to that. He paused, shifted his breathing to match that of the child’s. While it was just a memory, as he felt himself laying on the bed - less wretched now - lighter. The old man, was itching to return.
This time, the boy had stopped running and was looking less joyful. There was a heaviness now in his step.
The bluebells were no more, the ground underfoot, damp with colours of golden orange, burnt reds and browns all forming a carpet of colour as Autumn made way for the winter chill. The jumper the boy wore was forest green, a school pullover, his brown leather satchel swung heavily, behind his back, laden with books.
The old man looked for the silver box, the sparkle that the boy had been running with. His breathing quickened, as the anxiety built. He could feel so much sadness and dismay as the boy’s face came into full view, his soft cheeks bathed in apple red blush, tears streaming, not uncontrollable but definite and consistent. He was upset and stood in front of the small clearing in the woodland he visited every day. Still crying, he placed down his bag, started to dig with his hands through the leaves and dirt. As his pace quickened, he grabbed for a stick to support him to strike deeper in to the earth. The old man looking clenched his hands as they became taut and strained against the mattress he laid on.
The digging continued. The only sound in the woods was the delicate cry of the young boy and the scraping of the stick against dirt and leaves.
He stopped abruptly and looked around to see if anyone was there - watching him. He felt that the wood had become crowded and yet there were no people with him. He pushed these thoughts away. And grabbed for his bag – roughly forcing the buckle open - the golden buckle tearing ever so slightly against the young boys left hand. He did not falter - reaching into the
bag he pulled out the silver coloured box. He was momentarily stunned by it and started to open up the lid. Light streamed out in all directions engulfing the boy - he smiled deeply at the unadulterated joy that he was again connected to.
Then tears rolled more steadily as he closed down the box. And started to move it towards the dirt filled grave that he had only moments before, unearthed. The old man came too - his body shuddered as he felt the word ‘No’ reverberate around his room. In an instant he was back in the room. He could feel a delicate and gentle hand on his shoulder. The nurse was back - he opened his eyes slowly and saw the same light streaming from her eyes. Her touch supported him to release the tension, his grip on the bed clothes eased, he let go and drifted back into his pillow. Less anxious now he could feel that time was ebbing away – his body crumpled, but he felt a clarity he had not known for so very long. He looked up to the nurse still tending to him - he could feel an appreciation of the love and care she offered billow from his chest. The light from her eyes filled the room, it was like every tiny part of her sparkled. Her touch so delicate and yet so precise. The image of the joyful boy returned as he started to put the pieces together. The boy was him so many years before - dancing with joy and light in his world - he loved the shape of nature, the caressing of the sun on his face. He revelled in the movement of his body, the butterflies he chased - the clouds he lay and watched morph into all sorts of shapes. The light streamed from him too, he knew that, he felt it. Solid and true.
This light, the esoteric. His innermost. It was not just a silver box at all but that which lived with in him from day 1. He remembered the silver box, he kept all his treasures in it. He remembered how he had decided to hide this light, as he got older, he wanted to keep it safe. He figured out this is what others were doing, they were also hiding their light. He saw how adults didn’t like to see the light in children. But light needs light to shine, and so it became harder and harder to keep it vibrant and alive. He remembered the day he decided to bury this light, the digging, the crying and the way the tears stained his cheeks and coloured the earth. School had become unbearable without this light being his every day. He chose to snuff it out - close it down and not hold it close. The man felt the dampness on his cheeks as the truth started to move through his body that had walked the battlefield of human life. He felt he had no choice but to enlist in that fight but he saw today that his body didn’t need to carry the scars and armoury of the world, his body was and always is a vehicle for the light that he had once vividly known. With each tear that fell, his heart expanded and the shadows that engulfed him started to dart and move. The hand on his shoulder steadied him as he felt the love for himself and humanity start to re-appear.
Eventually, he heard a whisper - ‘welcome home’, he opened his eyes one last time and looked deeply into this nurse’s eye. She simply smiled and gave a gentle nod, he could see her past and in this moment, her future.
He could see that she had made a different choice to him, she had not hidden her inner light and in this moment of surrender he knew that this esoteric light is within us all and is never lost, just buried from a world that tells us to hide who we truly are from each other.
As he held her gaze, he felt deeply sacred, wondering why he had waited until now to surrender to the fact that the truth is within, the esoteric – the innermost.