"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Candle in the Darkness

I had been waiting all week to watch the movie I'd borrowed from the library.

This was it - the movie was due the next day.

I had just enough time to finish it before she came home and would want to watch Stargate until we both decided it was bedtime.

I sat on the couch in the basement, carefully crocheting the something (whatever it is) I've been working on these last couple of months after I finished my purple afghan.

I was really getting into the movie, enjoying that which I'd been hoping to see for years,

Enjoying the moments that had been delayed for almost an entire week.

Then I watched the screen before me flash from a forest scene to darkness.

The light behind me with which I was crocheting had gone out.

The light near the stairs that is always on was no longer lit.

The battery generators that keep the basement computers running for a few extra minutes so that someone can shut them down were emitting their "I'm hard at work" noises.

The power was out.

There had been no warning -

No loud crash of thunder,

No constant drumming of pouring rain,

No sounds at all.





I made my way up the stairs carefully, fortunately stepping on the hose draped on the lower stairs and hallway floor and remembering its presence before tripping and falling over it.

I looked out the upstairs windows.

It appeared a little stormy, but it didn't really seem to be raining.

I stared at the scene for quite a while, enjoying the twilight and the beauty.

I grabbed my journal and began to write by what little light was still coming into the window.

Then I remembered my LED flashlight that charges by someone shaking it and retrieved it from my room.

I held the flashlight in one hand, my pen in the other.

I dented and inked the pages resting on my lap: 

     1507.  Long power outages
     1508.  Shakeable flashlights
     1509.  Wind blowing hard

The wind blew several water droplets onto the window.

At some point, it had started raining.

When I finished gift-counting (for the moment, at least), I retrieved the camera from its typical location (hanging off of my chair in the kitchen) and began walking around, photographing these "powerless" moments.

It was so dark that I had to point my flashlight at my subjects in order to see them through the camera's tiny window.

When I pressed the button, however, the room filled with a momentary flash of light.

The picture offered a brighter view of the darkened house than my eyes were able to take in.

I needed the flash for the empty displays, but I really wanted to capture what the house looked like in the darkness, so I used the light of the candle burning on the stove to help me see how to turn the flash off.

Then the pictures started coming out black.

Apparently, camera lenses have more difficulty with darkness than human eyes do.

I began searching the house for light.

Someone had fixed the light at the bottom of the stairs, hooking it up to a UPS.

I could now see to avoid the hose . . .

And take a picture of the light.

The camera showed it as the only object in a sea of black.

(Well, that and power chords and hints of boxes.)

I saw the light's reflection on the floor and attempted to photograph that, as well.

It didn't turn out quite as well, but I could almost see it.

I even tried taking a picture of my flashlight . . .

And the way it lit up the basement curtains.

As I continued, snapping pictures of the world outside . . .

(Or, rather, the flash in the window.)

And my abandoned crocheting,

Which also (not surprisingly) looked much better when I turned the flash on, . . .

He asked me if this was the best part of my day.

As I stood, camera in hand, attempting to get some beautiful pictures of three flickering flames, I said, "Yes."


I have always enjoyed power outages.

Usually, I like them more during the day when I can read and play board games and we can cook dinner outside on the grill, meat and vegetables all wrapped in aluminum foil . . .

But this was good, too.

To sit and watch the wonders of the storm,

To journey around the house, attempting to capture the darkness . . .

And the light.

It was so nice,

So relaxed,

So peaceful.

I considered this better than the parts of my day spent watching TV, looking on the Internet, reading a book.

The peace of the darkened house, with small lights gently seeping through the black.

The lens offered me two extreme views of the darkened house:

One with no light,

Another with too much light.

The world I was in was really somewhere in between.

There was light, and it crept into the darkness, giving off enough light to see by, but not so much that it was blinding.

Tiny lights stretched farther in the dark night than they would have during the bright day.

Shadows cast, dancing with flickering flame or people's movements, were far more precious than usual.

It was nice to be there,

In the darkness -


I pressed the button again, flash off this time.

We are supposed to be like this - 

A candle shining in the darkness,

Light reaching out beyond us, into places we might not notice, might never see . . .

Our own reflections of Him reflecting elsewhere . . .

Slowly creeping into the darkness . . . and overcoming it.

Not in a bright, flashy way, but gently and tenderly, . . .

Full of peace.

The lights came back on not too much later.

Something was gained:

The ability to read and write without using a flashlight,

The ability to see where one is going,

The ability to turn on light switches and TVs and CD players, . . .

But something was lost, as well.

It was suddenly all bright.

Suddenly, the peace of the calm, yellow flames shining into the darkness had disappeared.

I don't usually notice the light,

But when the light is gone and darkness surrounds me, every tiny pinprick of light makes a huge difference.

I don't usually notice the candles burning on the stove,

But when all other light is gone, I see them casting their yellow glow, the shadows flickering on the ceiling.

Light shines in darkness.

Without darkness, would we ever recognize how important the light is? 

Most of the Bible verses this blog post links to were not paired with specific text.

One part of a sentence links to the song "You are the Sun" by Sara Groves and Matt Bronlewee.  Many thanks to these artists for their beautiful music.

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