I was thinking about a story I heard in Teasdale, about why the cottages there are painted white. There are several versions of this story, but this is the one that I was told to me by a Teasdale sheep farmer.
The Baron of Teasdale was out hunting and he got lost when the weather closed in. Even today Teasdale is wild and remote, its possible to walk miles from the nearest sign of human habitation. In those times it must have been a frighting place to be lost in. The Baron wandered in the rain and thick cold fog, until darkness fell, and he could go no further. He came to a dry stone wall, lay down to shelter the best he could from the wind and the rain, and spent a very cold and uncomfortable night.
When daylight arrived the fog had lifted and he saw that he was sheltering against the garden wall of a farmer’s cottage, one which he actually owned. He sought help from the Tenant farmer, and was welcomed in to get warm and dry near the fire. and he was given a warming meal.
Later he rewarded the farmer and his family, and decreed that all his properties should be painted white, so that if anyone was caught out in a storm they would be able to see nearby cottages and find refuge more easily.
That story may or may not be true; there are different versions of it on the internet. It struck me though that the Barron thinking that he was lost, then discovering that he was close to shelter is very like the feelings of people who convert to Hinduism. After searching for spiritual meaning we discover that we are already there. In our heart we are Hindu, and always have been. Things come into place, signs that this was meant to be. In our searchf or God we discover that God is inside, we were never parted. Many people who have come to Hinduism express this feeling, that they are discovering that this is what they already were.
I also wonder, should we “paint our houses white”, as a beacon to others? Hinduism has traditionally kept to itself. Though generally welcoming, it has done little to make its presence known to or understood by outsiders. It is like the grey stone house in the fog, you could pass by without knowing that shelter is at hand. Perhaps this is out of suspicion of other beliefs – who don’t only advertise their own houses but given half a chance will drag people from their existing homes and burn them to the ground! Certainly we want to avoid enticing people away from their own beliefs if they are happy and fulfilled in them, but I think that we should let people who search for us know of the great things we have to offer . Perhaps this blog is my attempt to paint my house white.