“The quickest way to reach the light of day is to head east, plunging into the darkness, until one comes to the sunrise.” This thought I quoted last week from Jerry Sittser has become a perfect metaphor for what my husband and I are currently experiencing.
Because of plans made in mid-January for a return visit with our daughter & family, long before there was much information or interest in the Corona virus, we flew back to Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday. Little did we know then that we would be on the last flight to leave the USA that would allow non-citizens/residents to enter Australia for an indeterminate amount of time. But what I did feel deep in my soul for 10 days before we left was that we were going to be gone for a long time and that we needed to get prepared with our house sitter and other important arrangements.
And I had a vision of sorts – nothing eerie – more like a visual picture of our future. It was as if we were on a ship and heading into a darkness that stretched from horizon to horizon. It didn’t make me afraid, but it was a forewarning that we didn’t really know what lay ahead. We think we know what we will be doing and can picture our normal life when we are in AU, but this time will be different. This reminded me of the chapter “The Dark Island” from The Dawn Treader from C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.
The Dawn Treader is a ship with Prince Caspian and the Pevensie children roaming the seas searching for seven lost lords of Narnia. They sighted what looked to be an island off in the distance and so headed straight toward it. As they drew near they realized it was not an island but darkness – utter blackness. As the captain ordered to turn back, Reepicheep the indomitable mouse, urged them forward to fulfill their quest, saying “I hope that none of our noble company would turn tail because they were afraid of the dark.” So they sailed on, plunging into utter darkness for some time until they came upon, and were able to rescue, one of the seven lords who was in the sea trying to escape the Dark Island and all its horrors.
As they began turning the ship and rowing rapidly away from it, panic set in. “We shall never get out!” Lucy whispered a prayer: “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now. The darkness did not (immediately) grow any less, but she began to feel a little better.” As Lucy looked up she saw an albatross circle the mast and it led the ship into the light. Only Lucy heard it say to her, “Courage, dear heart.” As they looked back, the darkness and the island had disappeared.
The Dark Island and the darkness surrounding it was not a good thing – no more than the worldwide pandemic is a good thing. My husband and I have headed into an unknown future (are not all futures unknown anyway?). Perhaps uncertain is a better way to put it. It is different than what we would have experienced had we stayed home in Arizona. But our “Aslan” has given us courage and we do not yet know how we can be of help in our new home. Despite the unknown and uncertainty, we do know that we can all repel fear and panic by our words and our actions. Next week, I will write about how our choices while we are all in the darkness can make a huge difference, not only in our lives when we experience losses of all types, but in the lives of those around us.