When I first moved to Bainbridge Island, back in 1998, I didn't realize how dark it could get living in the woods. I had grown up living in the suburbs of Seattle and had never lived anywhere but suburbs or in town, where there are few trees and/or plenty of street lights. Our first rental house on Bainbridge was at the far northern tip of the island, and to get to the house we had to go down a long rabbit warren of driveways through a thick forest. Houses were sparse and trees were many and tall. I should have taken a hint by the flashlights that every other bus rider was holding when they got off the bus at night, but I was young and clueless. "I don't need a flashlight..."
So, when the bus dropped me off and drove away I was a little surprised to discover just how dark dark can be. At first the headlights reflected off the trees and provided some light. But as the bus rounded the corner a ways off behind me, it went to pitch black. I've been in a super dark place before, and I just keep trying to open my eyes further. It's as if I don't believe they're open because nothing is registering. The weird thing was that I've never been in a place so dark outside. Usually, there's light bouncing off the clouds, or the moon is providing some light. But not in these trees.
I put my hand out in front of me and could not see it. So, I was walking slowly down the driveway that I knew was there, but I was wandering off course into the muddy ditch on the side. It was so dark that I literally got down and touched the edge of the driveway with my hand to feel my way down the driveway. Eventually I got to the part of the driveway where I needed to leave the pavement and go down a gravel driveway. There was no more pavement to guide me and I didn't want to go into the ditch. At that point, I looked up that I discovered a path to follow. Where the driveway cut through the forest, there was a path of stars above, and if I just kept looking up, I could stay in the middle of that path and walk straight down the driveway. Eventually, I got down closer to the house and a light from the house guided my path.
Later I was thinking about that experience as a metaphor for my life. I struggle to see where I'm going and I insist on finding a way to do it myself. And a lot of the time that works well enough. But is that any way to live...well enough. I want to live a life that is full and rich and meaningful, and the path to that life is there all along. I need only look up.
"I am the way, the truth and the life." - Jesus, John 14:6