We could only do it after 9 p.m.
Darkness finally arrived in Northern Wisconsin after 9 o’clock during the Summer months. So, by the time we were told it was time to come out of the water, we all knew there was still more fun to be had. After changing out of wet swimming clothes and into dark sweatshirts and shorts, all the cousins would disperse into the darkness to hide behind the cabin, random trees, neatly parked cars or the secluded out house. One of the older cousins would be ‘it.’ He or she wielded my uncle’s 1950’s edition of an old metal industrial flash light. That old, heavy flashlight could have sent signals to Sputnik had we known how to do that back then. The light beam was that intense.
Flashlight tag was a favorite game of Summer. So was Capture the Flag and Jarts. I loved hiding in the darkness. People I trusted were there to help guide and protect me. I expected to outwit the older cousin that was ‘it.’ We all committed to the game. We all took turns being ‘it.’ Even us 'littles' were given a chance to be ‘it.’ I needed both hands to hold the flashlight. Running while holding the flashlight was truly challenging for me. I think I may have been five years old for this memory. But, I was surely not going to allow them to think I couldn’t handle being ‘it.'
I didn’t understand, then, that it would be difficult for my eyes to adjust to the bright beam in the midst of the darkness. It was certainly easier for me to hide in the darkness. I could see everything in the dark. I could especially see where the light was from any vantage point. But, being the one with the light was different. Imagine my surprise when my light beam met my 6 foot 5 inch favorite cousin as he came running up to me out of the darkness with his arm outstretched like a 747. High-pitched squeals, terrorizing screams and suddenly belly laughter developed as those big arms threw me into the air and caught me again.
Through the years, my relationship with darkness changed. Maybe it changed because the darkness of adolescence or adulthood wasn’t fun. It brought uncertainty, chaos and confusion into my life. Not even being a committed Christ follower kept me safe from the things that go ‘bump in the night.’ I definitely learned to respect the darkness. I tried to avoid it whenever possible. But, whether it was self-imposed or it crept in without invitation, I found myself lost in the dark.
Surprisingly, I found other lost people in the darkness. It was appealing to believe they were true friends that were there to help guide and protect me. But, lost people rarely make great companions.The Light was always present. I knew where it was. I was’t blind. I could see things even in the dark. Eventually, I learned valuable lessons. Most of the lessons I learned were costly and way too numerous to mention here. I am sure you can relate at some level.
Darkness is always present. There are innumerable revelations and pathways darkness tries to hide. Darkness can cleverly disguise a uniquely constructed passageway as a dangerous place or it can be a place of adventure and discovery. Some people allow darkness to rule their lives as it cloaks them in self-perceived isolation. They can know darkness as addiction, depression or chaos. Some experience darkness as fear, gluttony or laziness. For others, darkness is a place of wonder, peace and tranquility. Whatever the expression, it’s all darkness. We are all affected by it. God separated darkness and light in the beginning. I wonder, now, if darkness has a Godly purpose after all.
There is One True Light. The One True Light illumines everyone and for him darkness isn’t dark. Sunday we discover more together about Jesus could have meant when he said, “I am the Light of the World.” (John 8:12)