Alas! I now understand myself better. I thought I understood myself quite well. I thought I knew who I was. I thought I was the 2nd generation canoeist in my family. However, recently my mother gave me a picture of my Grandmother canoeing! In this 1920 summer picture, Sadye Lightstone is 16 years old. Now I am 3rd generation and my daughter who also loves to canoe, is our 4th generation canoeist. It’s totally in our blood!
If we were to adhere to royal titles, my canoeist grandmother would be considered the Queen Mum of the Canoe. My mother would be the Queen of the Canoe, which makes me the Princess of the Canoe. I love that title. My daughter is adorably the Duchess of the Canoe.
I’m feeling mighty proud to be ordained the Princess of the Canoe. There are not many of us. This is a role I hold dear to my heart. Each summer we need to dip our personal paddles into lake waters and glide among the loons. It’s a glorious time to share our intimate thoughts, dreams and learn lessons from the canoe.
During our annual summer canoeing retreat, I learned more lessons about life. The Queen of the Canoe and I went out into the middle of Lac Monroe in Tremblant provincial park. It was there she told me to be a lighthouse… if I can.
Of course this statement sparked a huge curiosity in my mind. What is it to be a lighthouse? How can a human be a lighthouse? I asked, “Oh Queen of the Canoe, what do you mean by being a lighthouse?” Her response was life changing.
The Queen stated, “I am getting quite old now. Old enough to witness the passing of many of my dear friends. Old enough to watch the suffering of too many. Also, old enough to witness the joy and glory of our expanding family. It’s a grateful and painful time. However, each day I wake up with a new found purpose. That is to be a lighthouse. If you can, you must do the same.”
After that statement, I needed more clarity. So I researched the meaning of a lighthouse.
Meaning: A lighthouse is a building structure which is designed to emit light from lamps and lenses and serves as a navigational aid for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways. https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Lighthouse
Next, I needed symbolic information, so I went digging a little more.
Generally, lighthouses have been: beacons of civilization, architectural icons, symbols of human presence and safety, and navigational guides. They have also represented: a rugged coastal lifestyle, protection, salvation, guidance, illumination, never-ceasing watchfulness, steadfast endurance, and helpfulness.
Equipped with the meaning and symbolism of a lighthouse, I asked, “What do you want me to do?”
Her answer was crystal clear… “Be a beacon of light. Be a guide towards safety. Be helpful. Be useful. Be the person who guides those through the fog into a clearing. If you are surrounded with despair, be the hope. Have a human presence, a guide, the bright light in the darkest of days. If you can, if you are there, if you are able…be a lighthouse.”
With those words, my paddle rested on the water. I was transfixed in the moment. I’ve never thought of myself as being so resourceful. I suppose age makes some people much wiser and in tuned to other people’s needs.
The rest of the afternoon was wonderful and at times playful; however, I was affected by her words. How at 85, the Queen of the Canoe, my mother, represents herself as a lighthouse? If she can, and she is there, and she is able, she is a lighthouse.
Months later, those words have not left me. The lessons from the canoe that day are permanent. I will be a lighthouse. If I can, and I’m there, and I’m able, I will be a lighthouse for others.
I share this with you. We can try to be the light in the darkness for others. We can try to have a human presence when needed. We can be the beacon of hope and understanding. We can at least try, a little harder to be helpful, useful and dependable.
I’ve been told to be many things in my life. Be a good girl. Be a good student. Be a good sister. Be a good friend. Be a good wife. Be a good mother, etc. But…On that warm summer’s day, I was told to be a lighthouse. This I aspire to be.
Hope. Light. Hope. Light. Hope. Light. Hope. Light. Hope. Lighthouse.
—Suzanne Reisler Litwin