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A Lighthouse in the Sky

How a seeker became a wanderer

By Ruben De EscapadoPublished 2 months ago 20 min read
3
A Lighthouse in the Sky
Photo by Nathan Jennings on Unsplash

A Lighthouse in The Sky

By Dario Hernandez

When the old man in the sky was a young man on the ground, he prayed to God every morning, evening, and night. The way his father did. The way his grandfather did. The words his grandmother showed him. The posture his mother displayed.

One day before they worked on the grape farm–the grape farm his grandfather had inherited from his grandfather–he prayed to God by the river. The long and winding river that led to the ocean.

On his knees and eyes to the sky, “My lord, I know I am young, but my faith is strong. My lord, I know I haven’t prayed enough, but I believe. Please, show me a sign. I don’t doubt you, but I need to see. My faith has been tested and I am in need of resolve.”

At that moment a fish leaped from the river. A finch in the tree sang an incomplete song. A fisherman with his rod on his shoulder came walking down the path. He was barefoot in overalls. His straw hat was just as tired as his skin. He was young, but his skin and eyes showed he had lived a hundred lives. He was whistling an incomplete tune.

“You won’t find what you’re looking for on your knees. Swimming is fun, but a boat is better.”, he said as he walked by the devout boy. He continued walking on. In the silence of an incomplete music the boy on the ground began to contemplate.

He heard his duty call him using his grandfather’s voice. The grapes wouldn’t pick themselves. The rows were in need of watering.

The boy on the ground worked on autopilot. His body going through the motions that it had gone through since he began to remember. But his ghost was elsewhere. It was trapped by the sight of the leaping fish. It was trapped in the incompleteness of the music. Lost in the words of a stranger. The boy on the ground asked for a sign and things had changed. He couldn’t deny it. The question was, is this God’s doing or mere coincidence? Is there a difference?

That night at dinner the boy on the ground’s mother said grace. The portions were served and each person said what they were grateful for in the order of seniority. When it was the boy on the ground’s turn he froze like ice that he had never seen.

“Find it, my boy.”, the grandfather said.

“I’d like to build a boat.”. Everyone was taken back. The grandma was the first to speak up.

“My sweet champagne, we are telling the lord what we are grateful for.”

“I am saying what I am grateful for. I’d like to explore God’s river and ocean. I would like to express my gratitude by bearing witness to the world's beauty.”

There was a silence. The mother picked up her fork to move her food around on her plate. The grandfather was the next to speak. Everyone listened because everyone outwardly knew all the decisions needed to be approved by the oldest man. Everyone inwardly knew the oldest man needed the approval of his wife.

“I’ll give you supplies and a half a year. If you’re serious get to work tomorrow. If after six months that boat sinks, then it’s back to the vineyard. You’ll need to work double time, my boy. To make up for lost time of course. If after six months that boat floats, then we will give you food and push you from our shores with prayers in our heart.”

The grandmother smiled. She approved of the proposition. The grandfather knew she would---they had been married so many decades. They no longer required words to communicate.

The father was somewhat in disbelief at his own father’s attitude. The mother couldn’t contain the excitement in her eyes.

In less than a week the boy had a design for the boat finished. He called for his family to watch the launch. He paddled out in the small boat. The family clapped for him at the shore as he made it out past the reeds.

The boat took on water. Panic insued. Before the boy on the water could resolve the problem the boat sunk. He was soaked. The family laughed deeply. When the boy swam to shore the only thing he said to his mother was, “I’ll start building a better boat tomorrow.”.

The next boat took two weeks to build. Made it a little further off the banks of the river, but like the first sunk like a stone.

The boat that followed took three weeks to construct. This one didn’t even make it as far as the first. The family’s laughter began to fade out as the soaked boy on the ground began to lay his fists to the trunk of a tree. The grandmother seeing his frustration remembered how good she was at drawing before she was a mother.

Prayer had taught the boy on the ground less about the words he recited and more about the nature of devotion. The importance of consistency. The depths of dedication.

Actually, what led him to doubt and the desire for resolve were the words. They gave him very little peace and often left him mystified.

After five weeks the boy was ready to test his newest construction. It was his proudest work. He was learning with each design. His father was excited for him. His mother was nervous it would sink. His grandmother was hopeful. His grandfather was growing tired.

The boat launched. “Lord be my light.”, the boy on the water said to himself. He paddled slowly. Past the reeds. Further than he has ever been. He is catching the current! The boy on the water felt like his heart had been hooked. His body was being pulled in the direction of adventure. He never felt so alive.

He dropped his paddle and stood on his feet. He shouted as loud as he could. Raised his paddle toward victory. The adventure he felt spread to his family watching from the banks. He is going to do it!

When the boy on the water began to trust his excitement, the current began to ebb him left. He noticed too late. He shoved the paddle into the water but his fate was sealed there was no redirecting. He crashed into a large boulder, took on water, and in an instant was submerged.

He swam back over to his family. They all looked at him not knowing what to say. He brought his knees to his chest and gave them his back. His eyes became fixed on a location. The water just passed through the field of his vision.

“Dinner will be ready soon, my little champagne.”, she kissed his cheeks.

“We are very proud of you.”, his father said with his arm wrapped around his wife.

Everyone left besides the grandfather. He sat next to his grandson on the wet dirt to his right. There was a finch singing an incomplete song.

“When I was a boy, I wanted to grow the world’s largest grape. I even believed God wanted me to do this. I told my family and they gave me time to chase my dream. It’s important to try. If you try and fail, well then you know, my boy. If you try and succeed, then you have succeeded. The point is I see my dedication in you. I tried constantly watering the grapes. I tried depriving the grapes. I tried adding sugar to the water. I slept outside so the grapes could eat my dreams. But after months of the grapes being the same size I had to accept that grapes are grapes. That grape farmers are grape farmers. They are meant for vineyards; not the ocean. Accept your failures as a sign from God, my boy.”. He placed a comforting hand around his shoulder.

The Grandfather got up leaving the boy on the ground with the river, the incomplete song of the finch, and his failures. The boy thought that in his pursuit of God’s message to him he experienced more doubt than what made him seek in the first place.

He wanted to cry, but no tears ever came. The boy looked to the sky once more preparing himself to let go, he heard another song coming from across the river. A fisherman in a straw hat with bare feet. He stopped singing, looked at the boy, and waved. Then disappeared into the bush. One more boat, the boy on the ground thought.

After he cleaned up, dinner was waiting. When it became his turn to declare what he was grateful for he said, “The river.”. His father asked him why.

“I work by it every day and it’s quiet, but it’s not. The finches in the trees sing incomplete songs. I can’t tell if the river is singing, but if it is the song is complete.”

The grandfather was shocked by the boy on the ground’s wisdom. The mother moved her food around on the plate. The grandmother had a glow in her eyes. She was a mischievous old woman and was up to something. The grandfather could tell she was plotting, but what she was plotting eluded him.

“Meet me by the river after dinner.”, the grandmother said to the boy on the ground. They ate in silence.

After dinner, the grandmother and the boy on the ground walked out to the river. The moon was very bright this night, so they didn’t need a lantern.

“There is something I’d like to show you.”, the grandmother said as she reached into her shawl. She handed the boy a handful of papers.

“My family didn’t inherit the vineyard. I chose it when I chose your grandfather. My family didn’t believe in God. I chose it when I chose your grandfather. My family believed in something called mathematics. Understanding the world through what can be measured instead of what cannot be measured. I have accepted both in my life and if your boat doesn’t work with these designs. I’d love to show you the way of mathematics. What can be measured and what cannot aren’t that different.”

The boy gazed deeply at the lines on the page. It was becoming clearer by the moment. The grandmother spoke again as she saw the curiosity growing within the boy on the ground.

“The same way I instructed you in prayer; I will instruct you on how to build a boat. I have put it in terms you will understand.” Each line was explained in the length of reeds.

“Tomorrow I will help you find the perfect reed to use for this design. We will need to begin before I have to work the vineyard.”

The boy on the ground didn’t know what to say. He hugged his grandmother beneath the moonlight. As he felt her warmth he listened to the river at night. It somehow sounded clearer in the dark. He was now certain the river had a song.

After morning prayers, they were patient, but eventually found the perfect reed. The grandmother gave him a blessing. He began to cut wood.

He worked with precision for weeks. The father frequently visited him after his day on the vineyard. One of these days a cool breeze passed for the entirety of his work. The father’s brisk hair would slap on to his forehead, keeping him chilled all day. He went to visit his son, the boy on the ground, when he saw the designs on the floor. He picked them up to analyze them closer. He knew it was the work of his mother.

He also knew that though his son, the boy on the ground, had the ambition and the will, he could never achieve what he wanted to do next. Not alone.

With his hairs still standing from the from the chilled breath of the sky, he picked up a piece of wood and held it steady. He said to his son, the boy on the ground, to, “Nail it here.”.

The father and son would work on the boat every day. He would arrive, exhausted, seeing his son, exhausted, but not giving up. They didn’t speak much. It was understood that this type of work required the prayer of quiet.

Eventually the grandmother would bring out their dinner and extra lanterns. She would sit on the floor as they worked, and eat. Then when they would stop to eat, she would get to work. When everyone was done eating, all hands were working. Until they had no choice but to sleep. The mother always drinking her tea in the doorway, making sure grandpa was okay, while watching them work.

Many nights, especially in the end, the three of them would lay upon the wet banks and sleep beneath the stars. The only thing to be heard is the complete song of the river and the incompete music of silence.

No words were ever spoken but each silently considered one another to be the many faces of God’s love.

Eventually, when the mother knew that the grandfather was sleeping, she would run over to them. She was a natural seamstress and began diligently working on the sail.

In no time the boat was ready to disembark, and the now grumpy grandfather never even witnessed a moment of it’s construction.

Everyone filled the ship with supplies. It was clear that this time would be a success and the boy will be able to set sail.

He climbed upon the ship and they pushed him out. He guided it into the current. Locked it in the direction. As he turned to look back at them, his grandfather was waving from a top the bank. His dad jumped for joy, his mother cried as she clenched her chest, and the grandmother sat on the ground. She looked at her reflection in the water.

The boy on the ground became the boy upon the river.

A gust of wind came in and he was speeding towards the bay. The embankment two the right and the left became obtuse. The great ocean was opening up before him. He saw where the sky and the ocean meet. The same sun he had seen his entire life was now an immaculate embodiment of something more. Suspended in all of it’s grandiose.

He sailed towards it. Now that the decision is past him, he is realizing he knows nothing about anything. The only thing he knows is how to harvest grapes, how to be grateful, and how to build a boat. It looks like he is just going to have to follow his gut.

He made it past the bay. Before he knew it the land that he always had known dwindled behind him.

The days passed. He ate through his supplies quite quickly. His belly had demands, but so did his boredom. The boy on the ground, who became the boy on the river, who became the boy at bay, and is now the boy at sea was transitioning quickly. The excitment of that carried him at first.

But even the rich gloss of light that glides above the surface of the ocean becomes dull to a silent mind. Dull is the wrong word. It’s a leap of acknowledgement. An internal recognition that that if it glimmers there it glimmers in there. You must become beauty in order to embrace it truly. It quickly becomes your option when you have nothing else.

Another week went by. The boy didn’t have enough food. His belly ached and he fed it with prayers. There was this spot at the head of the boat. He would sit there while resting his back on the wall. In deep states of frozen silence. Contemplating the song of the ocean. Trying to follow it’s music inward to discover if it is complete or not.

Eventually, too many days had passed. His young body began to decay. How vividly he could imagine his grandmother’s meals.

He went inside to die on his cot. When he laid down in the bed, he heard a strange crunch. He raised the bed of feathers and beneath it were a bundle of reeds. Some string and a hook. The grip is the interweaving of vines from the vineyard.

A small letter from his grandfather:

“The vines are not going anywhere.”

The boy in the setting sun dropped his line into the water. It put up a valiant fight, but in the end the boy at sea over took the large tuna. This large blue fish lay in his lap. Many thoughts ran through his head until he just behaved. Digging his teeth into the tuna. Bite after bite. Consuming it raw.

He slept well but woke up early. Throwing up uncontrollably. When the vomiting ceased, his belly ached in soreness.

He began to eat the raw tuna, again. For some time he was alright as he slept the meal away, but when he woke. The vomiting returned.

There was no more tuna to fill his belly. The day began to quake with imminent darkness. The boy decided to lay flat on his back. He watched as the stars slowly broke through the darkening sky. Were his family on that cool bank by the vineyard? Looking at the same set of stars? Before he knew it he was submerged into a weak sleep.

He awoke when water splashed on board. His ship was pointing toward light, but it was slamming into waves. Teetering upon chaos, as the ocean lifted him to the heavens, and slammed him down toward the unknown.

He grabbed on to what he could, but all efforts felt senseless against the wrath of a storm at sea. He stood wide enough to position his footing. He placed his hand on his forehead and on his chest. He began to shout the prayer his grandmother had taught him.

“MERCY BE UPON ME.

MERCY BE UPON THE SOULS OF OTHERS

THAT WEAR MY FACE WHEN THEY WEAR SORROW.

I WILL HOLD YOU IN MY PRACTICE.

TO KNOW YOU IS TO KNOW ONESELF.

MERCY BE UPON ME.

I HAVE FOUGHT IN THE SPIRIT OF YOU

BUT YOUR COMPASS GUIDES ME TO TRECHEROY.

WHEN I ASK TO YOU TO SHOW ME THE WAY.

YOU MAKE MY WAY MORE DIFFICULT.

IT IS ONLY AFTER TIME

THAT I SEE YOU IN LAUGHTER.

MERCY BE UPON ME.

I HAVE ASKED FOR STRENGTH

AND YOU HAVE GIVEN ME TRIALS.

HERE I STAND.

HERE I STAND.

HERE I STAND.

I WILL BE NOTHING, AT THE MERCY OF YOUR COMMAND.”

As the song of the ocean reached it’s highest octave, he broke through the storm. Now in a pocket of light, he stands alone and soaking wet. In the eye of the storm.

A golden voice runs up his spine and gives him an ultimatum.

“Die or be my slave?”

Without a single thought the boy began to steer his boat in the direction of the storm. As he did the eye became smaller and began to cyclone. The remaining light from the sun collapsed into a beam and then into nothing.

The front of the boat began to lift, again. Rising each time. Like a wild stallion raising it’s hooves towards the clouds. Until finally…

The boat lifted up from the sea. He began to ride the wind. Being hurled closer and closer to the clouds. As he approached the source, the stom became more violent. Just when he thought he couldn’t handle the storm any longer–he broke through the clouds.

He rose above. His boat gliding on top of the soft clouds. Even the aroma felt weightless.

His boat slowly moved along. The rain droplets quickly drying against the rays of sun now beaming down on the boy in the sky.

He looked out on the weightlessnes of it all. The boy understood as he looked out on the horizon, where the cloud of beds met the sun, that he had surrendered. He hoped it was God, but whoever was here–he was now their slave.

The silence felt different. It was like it made it’s way through the floor boards. The boy in the sky heard his own pulse.

A body was in the nude. The boy in the sky had never seen a naked woman before, but he knew the body before him had more than just a man’s parts.

She wore a crown of thorns around her waist. In her head was a mirrored halo. She sat on top of an orange squid. She just looked at the boy. Without moving his mouth the boy in the sky had understood what had been said.

You are my newest slave. Leave your name in the sea and come with me.

The boat seemed to be tethered to his squid. It traveled away from the horizon. At least, the one with the descending sun.

They traveled in this direction for three days and three nights. Then suddenly they came to the shore of a small island. It had a small house with many books. A cluster of reeds. A well. A row of grapes. A row of olives. There was a tight knit archipelago of stones leading toward a tall light house.

The being of sensuality, anointed the boy in the sky into a knight of the infinite resignation. The boy in the sky humbly accepted all that he did not understand.

The lighthouse is a guide back to here. As I continue to traverse the infinite, it’s my duty as humble observant to select a lighthouse worker, when the other dies and returns.

You are the new lighthouse observer. It will require your prayers every morning and every night. Do not forget the prayer of quiet. This will keep the flames on. To guide me back here as a I traverse and observe.

The next time you will see me, in this form, you will be dying. You may ask me one question?

“What do you mean, return?”, the knight of the infinite resignation said as he got off his boat. Dropping down onto the island that would be his home until he died.

When you die up here, you will return to your family on the vineyard. In the exact moment you heard the call. And you can choose then to answer the call like you did, or deny it. You will make the decision after a lifetime of solitude.

This being than looked at the knight of the infinite resignation directly. The weightlessness of his surroundings had become one with his breath. She kissed the knight of the resignation on the forehead. Forever gracing him with their eyes and ears.

Then they no longer were. And the knight was alone. Sorrowful even. But he feared what would happen if the lantern of the lighthouse went out. So he would pray routinely. His diet consisted of the olives and grapes that never ran out.

He’d sit for hours on the island witnessing the prayers of his grandmother dissipate with his memories. Reading occasionally, but never seriously. He became so entranced in prayer and had such a light diet that his prayer of quiet–the one he had forgotten he had learned with his father–became his continuous state of being.

The knight of the infinite resignation was uncertain of all things, but intuitively felt that the lighthouse had never shined brighter. That his connection with the lighthouse has deepened beyond compare.

Oddly enough, there is no wind here. The chimes are still, except for the moments he smacks them.

He decides to climb the stairs of the lighthouse for the first time. After being on the island for almost two decades. He ascends. Seeing an immense flame but it is deadly quiet. Not a single crackle or flap.

Out on the balcony all you saw was clouds in every direction. Then a finch came and landed on the black gothic railing. It sung an incomplete song. It was the first thing the knight of the infinite resignation had heard in years. Besides the occasional storm in the distance, or smack of the chime.

One of the prayer’s from his forgotten childhood slipped out.

“The love of longing–

You slip through my fingers

While I feel your touch in my throat

Take me–for without you I am imperfect.

But with you I am accepted.

Grace me from above

And I will climb the ladder that you offer.”

The bird twisted it’s head to the side as it looked at the adult man. Then it sung a complete song. It’s strange the way an epiphany is nothing and also the most important moment.

The Knight of the infinite resignation, sprinted down the stairs and to his boat. His meditations had become so refined that he was able to guide it with his ghost.

It went out on to the bed of clouds. He looked inside the cabin and found the fishing pole made of reeds. At he touches it he hears the words, “consider your failures to be a sign from, God.”

These were the only words the knight of the infinite resignation could remember from his past. The prayers just flowed out of him thoughtlessly. The words were nothing to him but a stone skipping along the surface of water.

He sent his line into the clouds and with some time he would hook a finch by the heart. Then they were tethered and he would draw them in through the prayer of quiet. They would rise with the hook in their claw.

He would then recite a prayer to the little finch. The finch would sing a song in it’s completion back.

This became the routine of the man who was aging. He’d engage with prayer in the morning. Make a sack of olives and grapes. Guide his boat out into to the vast brushstrokes of creation. Hooking as many finches as he could. Reciting a prayer for them. Listening to them sing.

Then he would return to his island. And contemplate over the lighthouse.

This is how The Knight of the infinite resignation chose to spend his life. He lived to be surprisingly old.

On one warm evening, he decided to lay on the dirt of the island and engage in a different kind of prayer. To be nostalgic. The Knight of the infinite resignation didn’t know if he accomplished anything with his life. The only thing he was certain of is that he was somewhere that was further from the stars, but closer to the ground.

He wondered what the ocean looked like. The flame of the lighthouse went out as a gust came over the island.

The next thing he knew the knight of the infinite resignation was anointed. He became a knight of faith. He was walking down a dirt path by a river bank. There is a boy coming up on his right. He is young and looks familiar but you don’t know how. You are both listening to the incomplete song of the finch. In this passing moment, they both hear the remainder of the song in the wind. The boy by the river forgets it, but he is under the shade of a straw hat. You remember. Now your surroundings are a symphony.

There is a woman in a doorway on your left. Some distance away. A man is walking towards her. An old man and woman are discussing something very intimately by the vines. You follow the song down the dirt path, never to see them again. “You won’t find what you’re looking for on your knees. Swimming is fun, but a boat is better.”, you say to this stranger.

This is your call. You are wondering how you should answer. So instead you choose not to. You just begin to walk in whatever direction feels natural. Without warning you have become the boy on the ground again. You remember everything, but you don’t recognize yourself. This supreme being embeds one ideal into your heart that will serve as the guide of your curiosity: Could you be loved?

You are wandering.

Short Story
3

About the Creator

Ruben De Escapado

Most know me as a poet sitting on a park bench in Central Park. Writing poetry for strangers. Before that I lived a life and learned a few things. Now I listen to what the world had to teach others. Believe in yourself and be honest. Okay.

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