Safe in the dark

On the day of my wedding my Grandfather said to me something like, "It's better to walk with God in the dark than to hold a lantern and walk along a well-lit path." (I think it was a quote although I can't rule out that it was a verse.) I say "something like" because I can't remember the exact words. I wasn't carrying a 3" x 5" card or notebook when he said this so I couldn't write it down, nor would I have even thought to do so at the time. It was one of those profound pearls that I thought I'd never forget. Of course I did forget the exact words but do still remember the point and my Grandfather's glowing face as he spoke to me. And from time to time something pops up to bring that scene to mind. Last week something popped up and it's been on my mind ever since.

It was a small thing. An object lesson in a very small children's program in my very small church. I'm one of the teachers in this program but I can't take credit for designing or leading the object lesson. Here is how it went: The lesson was on "trust". Specifically, what does it mean to trust God? Of course, we talked about what it meant and why we should trust God but words are sometimes inadequate. To help acquire a visceral understanding of "trust", children were led through a small obstacle course, one child at a time, blind-folded, and on the arm of a leader. The leader helped them navigate a rope pulled across their path several inches above the floor. The navigation wasn't perfect--it wasn't intended to be--so the rope still caught at the blind-foldees' ankles. Each child tripped a bit trying to step over the rope, not falling but stumbling. Once past the rope and some closely arranged chairs, they were surprised by the gentle pop of a Nerf ball on their stomach and the tap of a Nerf bat on their shin, and so on. Not injury-producing certainly, but the surprises made them jump and maybe feel uneasy. Enough of a trek through the unknown at the mercy of a leader to give the brave participants a taste of trust and the message that "you may get bumped and afraid but you make it through".

This is the small thing that made me think of my Grandfather's words and the ways in which I feel I am walking blind-folded and stumbling a bit and the divine arm through which my human arm is hooked. St. John of the Cross said something close to what my Grandfather said: "If you wish to be sure of the road you tread on you must close your eyes and walk in the dark." Maybe if the path was always fully lit, one would never go through--by choice--the obstacle course that was one's destined path?

If anyone recognizes the quote or verse my Grandfather recited to me and knows the source, please drop me a note.