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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Light in Darkness

Photo Credit:  GaborFromHungary at
Boy, did we have a storm on Monday night!  I had a strong feeling that our electricity would go out, so I lit all the candles I own and found batteries for the kids’ flashlights.  The faint smell of sweet vanilla filled the kitchen as the rolling claps of thunder and howling wind rattled the house.  My husband wasn’t home yet, so the kiddos and I huddled together while the bolts of lightning illuminated our country sky.  I prayed for my hubby’s safe arrival, while the kiddos squealed with nervous energy.

It wasn’t long before we heard the familiar jingle of daddy’s keys and I sighed with relief.  With the unpredictability of the weather just outside our window, I craved the comfort of knowing that all my little chickies (and papa rooster) were safe under one roof.

Within minutes, a booming roar of thunder and crash of lightning left us in darkness for almost three hours.  The only light we could see was the flicker of our candles casting strange shadows on the walls.  My son warmed a few leftover pieces of sausage for his daddy over the candle’s flame.  The judges from the Food Network would’ve been so proud.

However, there was enlightenment found in the darkness.  There was no noise coming from the TV or computer.  No hum of the fans or air conditioner.  No sounds coming from the refrigerator or ice maker.  The silence of the house was deafening.  I plopped down in my favorite rocking chair and began to rock back and forth….something relaxing that I’ve always enjoyed.

All we could do was sit and be still.  Together.  In the dark.  We piled into the living room.  My youngest daughter climbed up on her daddy’s chest while he stretched out on the floor.  My son was sprawled out right next to him.  My oldest daughter curled up on the couch.  All of them fell into slumber listening to the monotonous rocking of my chair.  I watched their chests rise and fall by candlelight and listened to their deep breaths.  I thanked God for them.  I prayed for them.  The three hours of a forced “time-out” were a gift to me.  It was in the darkness that some of my greatest gifts were brought to light again.

Another recent experience with darkness involves a zip line.  Yep.  I had never been on a zip line before Sunday.  I opted to try it for the first time in the dark.  Sure.  Why not?  Why the heck not!

I couldn’t see and that was both a plus and a minus.  One perk was that I couldn’t see how high I was.  One drawback was that I couldn’t see ahead of me or behind me.  I knew my hubby was at the end of the zip line waiting for me, so that brought me some sense of calm.  There also happened to be several friends nearby cheering me on.  Two of them were priests, so I felt extra blessed that day, even though my knees trembled a bit beneath me.

The light in darkness was that I truly felt the support of my friends and I knew my husband would be there for me…even though I couldn’t see him.  It reminds me of the faith that I rely on in knowing that Jesus is there for me, even though I can’t physically see Him.

My last moment of “light” that I want to share didn’t occur in darkness at all, but during the hours when the sun shines brightest.  It was during a recent family trip to the Frio River.  I hadn’t been to the Frio in about 30 years, so it was well past time for a visit if I do say so myself.

Even though the river was low, we decided to go tubing.  We rented some tubes and our extended family of eleven was ready to earn the coveted title of, “River Rats.”  Nine folks were well on their way to the title, while two of them were working toward another award…the “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race-the-last-shall-be-first-why-am-I-not-moving?” award.  The lucky recipients were my dad and yours truly.

I have never laughed so hard in my life.  My dad and I insisted on tubing the river.  Goodness gracious!  We don’t need to walk it!  WE. TUBE. FRIO!  WE. FLOAT. FRIO!  So, there we sat on top of two whole inches of water.  The clouds were moving.  The water was moving.  We weren’t.  So, like old dogs with itchy backsides, we scootched and scooted our way over the rocks, inch by inch, getting rashy arms from relentlessly brushing them back and forth against the black rubber tubes.  Our group was WAY ahead of us and we were stuck.  But, we were together and we made the best of it.  We laughed – oh, how we laughed.  It is a great memory.

Even though my dad and I weren’t making much progress at the time, we had each other and it didn’t feel so terrible being stuck there.  Our howls of laughter made things much “light”er.  It makes me appreciate family and friends who are truly there for each other when they are trapped in rocky places along the river of life.

Matthew Kelly reminds me how to handle the rough spots too – “When you fall, get back up.  If a great athlete has a bad game, he doesn’t miss practice, torture himself, or drown in self-pity.  He practices harder and longer.  Get back up.” 

As I’m writing this blog post, I am trying to digest the terrible news about Robin Williams’ untimely death.  My heart is broken for all of those he left behind.  My heart aches for each person, along with their loved ones, who struggle with depression and addictions. 

As Jeff Brown says, “Robin Williams is gone.  Yet another whose gregarious social face did not reflect his inner world.  We lose so many people everyday to unresolved pain that overwhelms their consciousness.  Few are well-known.  Most live anonymous lives.  We must prioritize authentic revealing and emotional release in our world.  We must slow down to see each other deeply and to share our inner worlds so that no one feels alone with their pain.  There are so many of us here, yet so many suffer in isolation.  We have to keep peeling the masks away.  We have to keep sharing our truths.  We have to.”

I pray that we all strive to somehow bring light to those around us.  We don’t know what darkness anyone is battling.  We need to be kind.  Always.  Always.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.  It’s hard to ponder that someone who brought so much joy and happiness to others through movies and comedy, was somehow void of that same joy and happiness himself.  It’s so difficult to understand really.  May we all be kinder than necessary this week and may we be a light in the darkness for at least one person today.

There are countless references to “light” in the Bible, but a few that I’d like to share are:  (John 8:12)  I am the Light of the world.  So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.  (Matthew 5:15-16)  Don’t hide your light!  Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.  (Psalms 119:105)  Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

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