Light in the Dark

“Thank goodness this didn’t happen in the winter,” we said back in March and April when this thing began. “At least we can go outside.”

Even when we were in lockdown, we could go outside and turn our faces to the sun and feel the warming and the promise of more. Our provincial health minister encouraged us, for the sake of our mental health, to spend time safely outside.

Around here, at the very beginning, before playgrounds were closed and cordoned off, we played four square and tossed a basketball around with our granddaughter. Later, we gathered in parks with camp chairs and coffee to visit friends. We walked in parks that city workers had retooled to allow us to keep safe distances from one another.

And spring turned to summer, and some days we almost forgot. Sure, it was different, and we made adjustments and let go of some things, but overall it was still a beautiful season of abundance.

We never imagined we’d be here, barreling toward winter with news of lockdowns looming. We look back and smile at our springtime naiveté. Who’da thunk we’d still be dealing with this thing after all these months?

Soon, only the hearty among us will venture outside for any length of time (read: not me) and we’ll turn back toward jigsaw puzzles and make sourdough bread and find other creative things to do indoors. We’ll sit by fireplaces wrapped in soft blankets, burn candles, and listen to good music. We’ll adjust—we’ve done it before—and find treasures in the dark.

Back in March I remarked that the world won’t be the same after this thing passes and my granddaughter asked what I meant. I didn’t have an answer. I couldn’t explain the strong sense I had that we were about to experience a global shift and that what was would be no more.

Neither have I been able to adequately articulate my belief that in the midst of this thing there lies opportunity. And we’ll miss it if we won’t release one trembling hand from the rope we are clinging to, reach for one in front of us, then let go with the other and take hold of something new.

I lean in hard to that which is universal and eternal—the solid things—and find courage to let go and reach forward. In the dark, we find light. There’s still that uncomfortable place in the pit of my stomach that churns like stormy seas and burns like glowing embers. I used to think it was one thing, but now I think it might be something else.

I return to the sofa in my den morning after morning and say come.  I scratch out a few words in my journal, read a few holy ones, and sit in silence and listen. And look for light in the dark.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Galdalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. I worry about what will happen after the holidays. I don’t think that folks will abide by the rules. Love the Tolkien quote.

  2. That’s a wonderful quote from Tolkein … I have a sense of foreboding for us here in the UK with the full awfulness of Brexit about to be revealed in the new year – along with wondering what will be happening on the Trump/Biden front. The miracle that is Christmas will be something to hold on to in the darkness of January … Hoping that the light continues to shine for you.

    1. There’s so much. Everywhere. It seems we are in a time of global change and it’s uncomfortable. Soon, as you say, we will enter the season of Advent, then Christmas, and we will have an opportunity to lean in hard to the gift that Christmas truly is. Good reminder. Thank you.

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