Lights On


“Mom. Mom!”

Ruby called to me from the bedside, a shadowy presence.

“What? Ruby, you’re killing me,” I said, trying not to groan. Roused from a dead sleep, this made the third night in a row our girl had paid us a nocturnal visit.

“The lights are out,” Ruby said. “I’m scared.”

Indeed they were. No ambient light glowed from the neighbor’s porches. No street lights provided background shadows. Nothing at all. I had to admit it was a little eerie.

“Okay,” I said. I pulled away from the undertow of the flannel sheets and dug up a flashlight for her. She went back to her room, glad for any glimmer of illumination.

I drifted in and out of sleep after that. Finally, a bit after 5:00 a.m., I got up. All was still dark. I felt my way downstairs to my phone. Thank God for battery operated items. I turned on the screen and settled in to read my Bible plan. I realized I couldn’t use the treadmill. Did I mention we’re having a storm outside? Unlike other places I’ve lived, storms here last for several days. We’re on a flood watch again, as the Skokomish River will probably flood again. Which means rain, and lots of it. Oh, and wind. Hence the outage.

Tired from several nights of interrupted sleep and sore from the kettlebell workout yesterday, I figured running could wait. I stretched instead. Realizing I faced a black-out shower experience in the near future, I fumbled around in the flashlight drawer for batteries. I found one enormous flashlight with batteries that still worked. Only problem:  it faded in and out of consciousness. The dim light made it impossible to tell which loose batteries went to which torch. Oh!  Zac’s old Spiderman flashlight. I turned it on. Nothing. Guess I’d have to scrub up with the hit-and-miss light. I’ve done it before. While in college, Bethany had power outages all the time. Redwoods, though majestic and tall, have weak root systems. Every time the winds rose, trees toppled onto the power lines. We’d wake up to blinking clocks and blackness. We shared flashlights among suitemates, using the bathrooms in near darkness. Showers involved bright light reflected off the ceiling. We each prayed we applied normal levels of makeup and wouldn’t scare our fellow students when we stepped out into daylight.

As I sat in the living room midnight this morning,  I recognized how much I underestimate the importance of light. We can’t do much in the dark. The lack of illumination limits our abilities. Our vision is constrained, our movements checked. How we need light of all kinds in our world! Encouragement, joy, understanding, grace and kindness come to mind. Yet there is one ever-present light who puts all others to shame. Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – John 8:12



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