Not a fan of the dark, I was surprised when we had the chance to take a boat trip through a cave this summer. Knowing I wasn’t alone in the inky blackness helped. Having the guide shine a flashlight on formations along the way showcased beauty in the dark that I would never have imagined.
We went from sunlight and 90 degrees to deep darkness and cold. There was ambient light at the beginning; when we pushed off, that was left behind.
The formations of stalactites and stalagmites were beautiful. having formed over many years, many formed images of things like chandeliers, teeth , or statues of people. The guide would shine a flashlight on the formations as we drifted by, images that would never see the light of day apart from these excursions.
When the light was off, there was deep cold and darkness. We were warned occasionally to bend forward to not let our heads be crushed by oncoming rocks. It struck me as incredulous that beauty and danger could coexist so well.
A huge beaver lived deep in the cave. He was asleep as we floated by, his feet twitching to his beaver dreams. There had been two at one time, but this was the lone survivor. He often brought down the necessary materials to build a dam, but they had to be dismantled because they blocked the boats from going through.
I was delighted when we emerged from the cave in the bright sunlight, which made me squint after having gotten used to the darkness. The light allowed us to see what had been unseen in the cave.
It feels like we’re in a self-made cave now, a place of darkness that we’ve created for ourselves that has blinded us to what is and keeps us from venturing into the light. The horrors in Afghanistan and what is going on in our country reflect a small portion of how we’ve allowed darkness to eclipse our vision and understanding of the right thing to do.
It’s easy to be like the beaver, to hide from the light and curl up in darkness, making it homey and comfortable. Not letting others needs or pain lighten our vision. Blocking what could be seen with what we choose to not see.
The darkness of anger and exclusion prevents the light of hope from shining fully.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The only Light that can drive out the darkness of pain, suffering, injustice, and anger is Jesus Himself.
The cave shows what grows in the dark can’t be seen unless a light shines on it. Unless we allow God’s light of truth to shine on the hardness and darkness of our hearts, we will tolerate the dark, with the hidden places where we are hurting and where we hurt others.
We can’t afford to ignore the dark and how it influences how we see others.
Like the beaver, only we can choose to come out of our caves and face the light.