Saturday, November 22, 2014

Light and Dark

Yes, it's been over a month since I posted anything. I've been shuttling back and forth across the country dealing with various family crises, most of which I've been asked to keep confidential. I can say this, though: I have the best friends in the world. Food has been arriving for my family while I've been away, people have volunteered to do everything it's possible for me to offload, and someone has even donated frequent flier miles so I don't have to pay for airfare.

Light shines in the darkness. This is true in most every situation, though I think we often miss it because we're so afraid of the dark. One of the subtle perils of modern times is that unless a space is fully illuminated we think there's not enough light. We're uncomfortable when we can't flick on a switch and make it easy to see. We want the environment to adapt to us, rather than to let our eyes adjust to the environment

In truth, though, light can co-exist with darkness. We know this in many ways: from being outdoors at night under a twinkling sky, from the relief of a penlight in a subway car gone dark, from a nightlight in a bedroom.

I sometimes wonder if all light has to do in order to overcome darkness is dispel fear. We don't need as much of it as we think we do.

*        *         *         *

I have realized in the chaos and upheaval of this month that something has shifted within me over the past year or two. I am not afraid. That is, I do not live in a place of fear any longer, even when scary things are unfolding left and right.

I was talking with one of my kids the other day and mused, "Sometimes we are so afraid of what we might have to face that we invest a huge amount of energy in wanting the problem to be manageable. We desperately yearn for a ping-pong ball size difficulty, instead of trying to figure out what we're really up against. Maybe that's because we think we can manage a ping-pong ball, and are certain we can't handle a medicine ball. But if what we're dealing with is actually a medicine ball-size problem, we're not going to solve it if we focus on ping pong."

Truly, it's better to see what there is to see. Often what blinds us is our own fear of how dark it might be on the road ahead. It doesn't take a whole lot of light to pierce that darkness, though.

*         *         *        *

Last week Andrew called. "Job here," he said, with moderate cheer, as I picked up the phone. In between two other crises, one of the kids leaned on the bathroom sink and the trap snapped, sending the sink plummeting to the floor. 

I laughed and laughed as he told me. It's kind of ridiculous, you know, when the world seems to be falling apart around you and then even the sink has to get in on the act. There was a time when a sink collapse would have caused me major stress instead of comic relief.

I flew home a day or two later on an emergency visit, because a big new crisis had unfolded. The sink still lay on the floor, dripping, grit and plaster all around it. The mess was the measure of how stressful life had been at home: getting this fixed hadn't rated as a top priority.

That night when it was the kids' bedtime I asked cautiously, "Ummm, where are the toothbrushes?" The bafflement that followed made me smile in amusement: clearly no one had thought of brushing teeth for a while. Fortunately there were extra new toothbrushes in the closet. And fortunately stinky breath and fuzzy teeth are no immediate peril. I'm storing that knowledge away for a day when life isn't quite so dark and difficult, and I might mistakenly think unbrushed teeth are a major problem. 


  1. I have missed your posts, but didn't imagine you were facing stresses that kept you away. I shall be praying for you and your family, that God will grant you strength, patience, continued sense of humor, and a peace the enemy fails to steal away. Looking forward to future posts that say life has calmed down for you for a bit.

    In Christ's peace,
    Dar in NY

  2. Hoping things get a little less difficult soon. Praying a Memorare for you!


  3. Praying for you this morning. ..

  4. Julia, you Andrew and your children seem like old friends. We have gotten to know you through Daily Guideposts' glimpses of your life we feel privileged for you to have shared. Happy holidays.

  5. Thinking of you and your family and praying that life has become a bit less stressful. Praying you'll have a merry Christmas!

  6. I hope you are well....I miss you!

  7. Will you be continuing your blog?

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