When it is hard to see the light

The announcer reported the crash of the German plane in the French Alps last week, and chilled my soul. My son-in-law frequently flies over Europe. One of my daughters lives in Switzerland, and we’ve visited the French Alps together. Though strangers died and lost loved ones, the personal connection brought it into my heart. As the story emerged of the co-pilot’s suicide, selfishly taking many with him, including sixteen teens and their adult chaperons from a village in Germany, I couldn’t shake the heaviness.

It’s too dark.

All around, the darkness seems to be growing.

Isis is teaching children to behead people.

Arab countries call for Israel’s destruction, along with the Great Satan – the United States. Iran moves closer and closer to the threat of nuclear weapons. Many think the trouble brewing in the Middle East may initiate World War III.

From across the U.S., I read daily notices, no longer front page, of young people on shooting sprees, mothers on trial for their children’s deaths and, tucked even deeper in the paper, day after day, arrests for child molestation.

And I wonder how many are never reported.

How many silent screams fill our land.

This was the filter with which I stood in church and listened to the dramatic reading of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a young donkey – a symbol of peace.

The crowd cheers him. Too soon, we move to the last meal. Jesus washes their feet with his love, and Judas rushes out to betray him. With a kiss. And the crowd now mocks and shouts, “Crucify him!”

But before that final ordeal begins, Jesus goes to the garden and talks with his Father. Agonizes.

Some believe he dreads the beatings, mocking, shame and the pain of the cruelest death, on a cross.

I think he looks into the darkness, that horrible presence in our world that continues to rip open hearts and lives, and perhaps he dreads entering.

Perhaps his greatest agony is knowing that, even after it is all accomplished, after he does through the darkness and wins the victory, after he rises from death to regain Paradise for God’s creation, there are some who will still choose darkness.

Some will still ignore the warmth of the fire and walk out into the heart-chilling cold.

What I can’t understand is how they are able to carry others with them.

The little children killed or terribly abused or neglected by their parents, the orphans no one claims, all the wounds in childhood that lead to an angry, hurting adult who hurts others.

At times, this is the darkness that makes it hard to see the light.

I know I cannot dwell there.

I must choose to remember the sun is still shinning above the thick clouds.

His love has been poured out.

God has won.

The end is secure.

And when the darkness threatens to overwhelm us, there is hope. There is light. There is a new identity, a new life for all who chose to seek it.

Out of darkness

Above the clouds
Above the clouds
On the plane to Europe, I watched, enchanted, as the sun rose over waves of white clouds. From the top, the massive cloud coverage looked like brilliant cotton pillows or rows of whipped cream. What a change when the plane dove toward the Zürich airport. We penetrated the clouds and the cabin instantly darkened. For the next weeks, the only time I saw the sun was when we drove to a mountaintop to hike, or spent a weekend in an Alpine ski village.
Guayaquil Ecuador
Guayaquil Ecuador by Jack H Thompson

Almost everyone I talked with complained or apologized for the glum weather, and I’m sure many are plagued with SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder, caused by lack of sunlight)

Swiss fog
Swiss fog

The constant grey sky and frequent fog cover, people walking huddled against the damp cold, and the predominance of black clad citizens admittedly can be depressing.

thick fog in eastern Switzerland
thick fog in eastern Switzerland

I’m flying home next week, back to sunny, warm Florida, flip-flops and sandals and sunglasses. Though the damp cold does get to the bones, the ever-present fog hasn’t really bothered me.

I know this is only temporary.

And I know where I’m heading.

How very sad it would be to live in the fog forever.

To live without the hope of warmth and light.

I feel for my daughter and her friends and their desire for sunshine.

I feel even more for those who always live in the fog, whose lives are circumscribed by their own wants and drives, who search for meaning and find only emptiness, who reach out for life and come up with empty hands.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Tracey walking Caitlin
Tracey walking Caitlin

Just as Tracey and I chose to go up the mountain to walk Caitlin in the sunshine, any human being can choose the light.
back into the fog
back into the fog
in Switzerland

Even when it feels like we are surrounded by darkness.
house in fog
house in fog

I could say discover your inner child, or seek your own peace and tranquility. I could encourage you to get more exercise and eat a healthy diet. Make friends. Volunteer. Find a hobby. Those are good and helpful, but don’t bring us into the sunshine.

I only know one way. Sometimes it starts with a mountaintop experience. Sometimes it is a cry in the night. Sometimes it is a gentle climb into the light.

But the path is the same. The way out of darkness.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Romans 5 1-2 MSG

And we discover that we don’t even do the climbing. We are carried into the light.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have is all-life healing and whole.

I Peter 1:3-5

How long is your Saturday?

I’m not asking how much you can accomplish on your first day of the weekend. How many chores or ball games. How much work or play you can squeeze into your day off.  This Saturday is the dark space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Between death and new life. Between reality as you knew it but can never experience again, and life as it will be.

Saturday is the place of death, of tears and loss and emptiness. Where hope does not glimmer around the edges. Nothing is like you thought it would be. Everything has come to a standstill.

How do you live through that long Saturday?

How do you climb through to glistening morning dew, faces you don’t recognize, but quicken your heart? A life you never planned to live?

We don’t get there by pretending it’s not dark.

That life before Friday didn’t matter all that much.

That it doesn’t hurt now.

Hollering in the graveyard may make small boys feel brave, but it can’t wake the dead.

And it won’t wake us.

We must wait. Live in the Saturday. Even if that living is slow motion, muted, arduous.

caterpillar under leaf
caterpillar under leaf

Until the sun rises.

I know some who have taken up residence in their Saturday. That’s no place to dwell.  If that is you, please, take my hand and walk with me toward the sunrise.

Leave your chrysalis and stretch out your wings.

butterfly on flower
butterfly on flower

Wait for the deeper reality, flowing through and behind.


Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
butterfly in flight
butterfly in flight

When the time is right, we will fly.


“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message



All photos property of Jack H Thompson

Content of this blog is property of Jane Foard Thompson and may only be shared in its entirety, with attribution.