There were 300 miles left to go. We'd already driven through a few towns. We were practically the only ones on the usually crowded highway. It was still dark and the fog was thick.
Every few minutes headlights were visible. Christmas lights, the large bulb kind, were strung across two poles towering over a fireworks stand on the side of the road. Beside the stand was a small marquis advertising Roman Candles for New Year festivities. Restaurant signs in town added blurs of color in the otherwise fuzzy night palette.
It was early Christmas morning. Most everyone was still in bed; any visions of sugarplums had quit dancing hours ago. But we were wide awake; moving ahead, our sight sorely limited. We trudged on though darkness surrounded us.
Darkness. It's a word that we're unlikely to talk much about but at Christmas, but darkness was, in fact, the setting for the first Christmas. Darkness can become our Christmas setting too. Fires claim houses. The news of a car accident taking three young lives (and forever changing the lives of others) seizes the whole town. Cancer steals the life of one who brought so much light into this world. Loneliness makes its presence known.
It's not that such tragedy and heartache isn't so difficult in July. It's the fact that Christmas brings about merrymaking, and merrymaking and bright colored packages stand in stark contrast to unbearable loss.
"It makes me feel split in two." I told my friend. Even when safe in our own boat we're surrounded by a world of sorrow. We're still tender from a battle we recently fought. We're crushed at the hurt around us. Darkness and light battle it out.
"How does anyone live their days without hope?", we wonder.
Hope is what keeps us afloat. There are dotted blurs of light placed on our path reminding us that there's something out there beyond the abyss. It won't be dark forever.
The sun is sure. We trust in its presence even when it's warm rays aren't felt, or seen. The coming of Christ is something we can trust in too.
He entered the darkness. And as the choir sang at candlelight service, darkness fell. Sure a degree of darkness visits us with each twenty-four hour rotation of this temporary globe. It invades our heart as it takes from us those things we love. But the darkness has been overcome. Someday it will be gone for good. There's singing under my breath this morning.
All is well all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love's light
We're offered an eternity without darkness. Until then there are flickers of light all around us.