Into the Dark

The teenage boy was not going to buy anything.  I can tell sometimes.  Well really, I can’t.  But, I think I can, so I pigeonhole customers as they come in.  It’s not purposeful, but is simply a habit I’ve acquired from being behind the counter at this music store for a lot of years, perhaps too many.

This kid, however, I knew wasn’t buying.  He told me so himself.  That didn’t stop him from asking questions about at least five different instruments and their accoutrements.  From ukuleles to drumsticks, he needed to see and touch, and discuss.  I like discussing.  That may come as a surprise to a few readers.  Very few.

The last thing he asked about–right about closing time–was the sheet music for a song.  It was, not surprisingly, a song I had never heard, but I looked it up for him in the online listing.  The title was “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, performed by a group known as Death Cab For Cutie.

He didn’t buy it.  I knew he wouldn’t.

He did leave the words of that title spinning in my head all evening.  I don’t know the song at all.  I listened to it just moments ago, but still don’t really know what it was about, except it was a love song with some pretty convoluted theology.  It doesn’t matter.  The actual song had no effect on the thoughts already spinning about my brain.

I will follow you into the dark.

The words followed me as I visited my sister in her hospital room where she is recuperating from a serious surgery, the same room where she sits and considers the days which are coming.  They are uncertain days, because she is walking a path she has never been down.  Home health care, the need for medical supplies, the necessity of having others to help her do the things she has always done for herself.

Into the dark.

The words were still in my head as I spent a few minutes at the dinner table with my grandchildren.  There is no shadow over them, no frightening future to face, unless you count the entire world with its terrorists and predators, its disasters and wars, along with a thousand other perils.  No, not much darkness here–or is there?

Into the dark.

I got in my exercise after the sun went down again.  The well lighted trail gives courage to run as fast as I am able and I take advantage, turning out times at which a young man would scoff, but of which I am proud.  As I ran toward the hill where I had a nighttime accident a couple of years ago, I pulled up.  The lamp which should light the sharpest turn in the trail was burned out, leaving the pavement in pitch darkness.  The rays from the lamp just before and just after didn’t reach this place at all.  I trotted forward again slowly, almost feeling my way with my feet as I ascended the fateful hill and rounded that sharp turn.

I will follow

Who?  Who would I follow into the darkness?

I see, in my memory, a young boy and his father standing in the doorway of the huge store.  The flashes of lightning in the sky have tripped the sensors, causing the lights in the parking lot to go off.  The darkness is profound.  Well, except for the brilliant lightning that spreads across the sky like fingers reaching out to snatch anything in its path.  The young boy balks at going out and tugs at his father’s hand.

“It’s too dark!  Let’s stay here!”  he cajoles, almost hysterically.

His father, knowing that a downpour is imminent, pulls him along impatiently.

“No!” cries the boy.  “I’m scared!”

With new inspiration, the father leans down and asks the little tyke, “Who’s holding your hand?  Who am I?”

The boy, holding back the tears, replies, “You’re my Daddy.”

With a smile of triumph and encouragement, the man booms out, “That’s right!  I’m the Daddy!  And, I’ll protect you from whatever is out there.  You’re safe with me!  C’mon!”

Laughing together, they run into the dark.

I won’t follow just anyone into the dark.  Left on my own, I would turn tail and run away from the darkness, never moving forward, never growing.

Truth be known, these last few days have been a bit dark for me, and I haven’t wanted to walk through it at all.  I talked about that with a friend from another state today, a man who has walked through the very shadow of death himself quite recently.  He knows the right One with whom to walk into the dark.

“Paul, if we knew what the next minute held, we wouldn’t want to walk into it.  We’re not asked to know, just to trust the One who walks with us.”

And, once again, I get it.  The One we follow?  He’s the Daddy!

I will follow Him into the dark.

It’s time to get moving again.  You coming with?

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.  Darkness and light are alike to You.
(Psalm 139:12,13 ~ NASB)

No, like a child in doubt and fear:
     But that blind clamour made me wise;
     Then was I as a child that cries,
But crying, knows his father near;

And what I am beheld again
     What is, and no man understands;
     And out of darkness came the hands
That reach thro’ nature, moulding men.
(From “In Memoriam” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson ~ English poet ~ 1809-1892)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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