Most little kids are afraid of the dark, and my three-year-old is no exception. Rather than walk into a dimly lit room by herself, she calls for help the way a normal person would shriek if on fire or being eaten alive by carpenter ants.
Toddlers, they’re like that.
As a child, I distinctly remember lying in my parents’ bed one evening when suddenly a previously unassuming heap of blankets at the foot of the bed morphed into a wolf about to pounce on me. I shrieked then like my daughter does now, and I continued shrieking until my Dad ran into the room and threw on the light. Huh. No wolf, still blankets.
This morning’s church sermon reminded me why the dark continues to be so scary, especially for adults. It’s not so much the blanket wolves at the foot of the bed as much as it is the metaphorical blanket over my head.
I didn’t even mean for that to rhyme; I’m just naturally a lyrical genius. Don’t fight it.
Sometimes I don’t want to admit the truth: that I’m not always nice. I don’t always speak kindly. My patience can’t even be described as thinning; it’s pretty much nonexistent right now. I’ve been exhaling curse words like air. I laugh when people fall down (it’s hilarious, I’m sorry). Funny thing about denial, though: it doesn’t stick around too long because the universe finds a way to slap you right upside the head and forces you to really see yourself.
Our priest talked about Good Friday being one of the darkest days in Christian history, and by contrast, Easter Sunday is the lightest. Easter is when good triumphs evil, hope overwhelms sadness. We have a choice to be part of the light, not just at Easter time, but every day; yet so many of us have unintentionally found ourselves in a dark alley.
There are days where I’m in that alley and I’m not even trying to find my way out. I’ve freaked the freak out on my kids or I’ve talked back to my parents or I’ve fired off an angry email knowing full well that I should have walked away and sought out my happy place first, but in the moment, I’m all SORRY I’M NOT SORRY! and do dumb stuff. Anger seems to beget anger with me. Once I’m low, I’m so low, and it’s a monumental task to get me back up.
And the dark is so much scarier now.
Maybe it’s because we’ve surrounded ourselves with nonsense and bitterness without meaning to. Be it the company we keep, the things we think we need, or the way we treat people–our decisions have not been made in kindness. Other times, we know exactly what we’re doing is wrong, but we keep on doing it because it’s easier than saying I’m sorry.
As my priest reminded me, we’ve got to turn on the light before we walk into a room. Even if we’ve been in the room a million times, wandering around in the dark is still tricky. One inch off and you’re smashing into something., or maybe the five-year-old who is allergic to cleaning up left a few Legos in your path; without a light, you’ll never see that minefield in front of you. We may not want light, because ignorance can be bliss, but we need it. The light is necessary so we know where we are, and so we can see where we’re going.
Here’s hoping we all find our light.