We sat on the airplane, a couple hundred of us, waiting. The sky was overcast, the air loaded with moisture. If there was a sun anywhere above us, it was nowhere to be seen.
My neighbors on the flight seemed content to sit quietly and not force any interaction, and I was happy to leave that just as it was. My trip had been stressful and emotionally taxing. The only ray of light I was clinging to was the thought that tonight I would be home.
Back to normal.
I stared, unseeing, out the window from my perch in the middle seat. Gloomy and damp seemed about right. But just then, we began to move down the runway. At first, the big wheels bumped along the concrete, the huge jet lumbering along in the dim light. Rapidly, though, the powerful machine accelerated until it broke free of gravity and we were in a steep climb through the clouds.
Gone to find the sun.
I willed us up past the mist and moisture, watching the scene outside the two windows through which I had a view. Surely, there was light somewhere.
Certainly we would be above the clouds soon. Blue sky. Clear sailing.
Yes! There it was! The sun was shining, after all.
The lady to my right, next to the window, slammed the sliding cover down on the sun. What was she thinking? Why would you close out the light?
Oh well. There was always the window in front of that. Gazing out that pane, I focused my attention on the thinning clouds through which we were still ascending and the energy from the sun which lit the tops of those clouds with increasing intensity, the higher we got.
We would travel in the light after all. All was not gloomy up here, was it?
Snap! The lady reached forward and pulled down the cover on that window, as well.
It was dark again.
I wanted to shake her. I wanted to yell at her to open at least one of the shades.
Then, I felt sorry for my anger and wanted to explain to her that I needed the light. I wanted to reassure her that the sunshine was a good thing which we all needed. I held my tongue instead and drowsed for the next two and a half hours. She did the same, while the man on my left worked at his laptop the entire trip.
I was to remember the young lady’s need for darkness a good bit in the days to come. At first, I wondered why anyone would prefer the darkness to the light. Then, two days later, as I acquired the symptoms of the influenza virus which overcame me, I understood her perfectly.
Whenever my eyes were open, I covered them to keep out as much light as possible. I walked from the bed to my recliner holding my eyes. I pulled the blankets over my head when the sun shone through the window blinds. The light hurt my head horribly.
The light hurt me.
I preferred the darkness.
For five days, I wanted nothing but to be left in the dark. The Lovely Lady understood and left the lights off as much as possible. She didn’t harp, didn’t nag, at me to get over it. She didn’t try to show me how much better the light was than the dark.
She just made sure I knew she was there if I needed her, occasionally touching me gently as she went about her own life in the light.
A young friend of mine came by to see me at the music store the other day. An important person in his life passed away a couple of weeks ago. He and his family are overwhelmed with the support and response of their friends. But, before he left that day, he had a few quiet, but poignant, questions to ask.
“Why is it that they all want to talk the whole time? Why do we have to show them that we’re okay? Couldn’t they just come sit with us and tell us that they love us? I’d like that better.”
He’s not complaining. But sometimes, when you’re in the dark, it’s because you need to be there for awhile. You don’t need a bunch of people walking around turning the light switch on again and again.
There are times when being in the full light of day is painful. The brilliance of the sun reveals the full extent of hurt and sickness that cut us to the core. We need time to heal.
We all know people who hurt. People who are sick. People who are sad.
I wonder how much faster they could heal if, instead of trying to fix things for them, we would just go and sit with them.
In the dark. In the quiet.
Somehow, I think that’s what God did for us. He sent His Son to sit with us in the dark for awhile and to bring healing to our weary and hurting souls.
We’re not intended to stay in the dark. We can’t thrive there. But He meets us where we are and gently draws us to His light.
Perhaps, we could do the same for each other.
Dawn comes gently–not like the glare of a powerful spotlight in the eyes, but with the hint of a soft golden touch and the rising glow of warmth.
“…on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”
(Isaiah 9:2 _ NIV)
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
(Helen Keller ~ Deaf & Blind American author ~ 1880-1968)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.