I tuck myself into a corner of the couch, my computer on my lap. The fire dances in the wood stove, flickering and waving, mesmerizing, and for a moment, I am lost in a world of violet and gold.
A cat curls behind me, her purr rumbling in my ear. Our black lab lies sprawled on the floor. Jonathan sits beside me, an arm around my shoulders as I write and he reads, our house nearly silent now that Katie is asleep.
It is evening, after a day of heavy and sometimes violent rain, rain that rattled the windows and drummed on the skylights, rain that left deep puddles in our dirt driveway. We spent the day inside, enjoying the comfort of our living room, the heat provided by the fire, and we made soup for dinner. Chicken and dumplings. Despite the bits that burned to the bottom, leaving a thick coating of blackened gunk that I had to scrape into the trash with a spoon, it was filling and tasty, the perfect meal to accompany a storm-tossed day.
The windows are black, now. Night has fallen, and outside these walls, it is dark. Dark and cold and wet, a harsh and startling contrast to the warmth and light inside.
And this, this is what I cannot understand, when the world explodes and night grabs hold and evil seems to reign, when events transpire which are so far removed from the comfort of these four walls that I cannot begin to comprehend them: why this light, here, now, in a world with so much darkness?
Some crimes are understandable, relatable, even for those who are moral, upright, upstanding. Crimes of passion, of greed, of lust. Though we would never do such things ourselves (we hope, oh how desperately we hope), we can see the underlying motivation, the reasons why.
Others, though – others defy understanding. How much of your humanity must you lose, how much of your soul must you relinquish to hate, to be capable of such horror, such terror? What desperation, what darkness, must fill somebody, that they have so little regard for life, so little regard for their fellow human beings? And why? Why would anyone do such a thing, act in such a way? What could they hope to gain?
What hate, what evil, roams this world and drives men and women to such horrendous acts?
The fire blazes still, there in the wood stove. Jonathan has moved to the floor, a pillow tucked under his chest, one hand propping his head, the other scratching the dog’s ears. The cat sleeps, no longer purring.
I sit here, with this computer in my lap, and I have no answers, no deep and profound thoughts about the ugliness of this world. I cannot answer the whys – why this light, here, now; why such darkness, such hate; why no intervention, no protection from the God of all creation, the One who has hosts of angels at His command – and I am learning, slowly, painfully, to sit with the questions, to let go of a need for answers.
I have no answers, no deep thoughts, nothing to offer but this:
The windows are black now and night has fallen and outside these walls it is dark and cold and wet. But inside, here in this house, here in this life, there is light and there is warmth and there is hope, and oh, how I long to share these things with those who will come, those who will listen. How I long to push back the darkness. How I long for my small lamp, my small light to make a difference.
The darkness presses in and this flame wavers and flickers and, so often, it seems as though it might go out, but it is all I have, all I can offer, and so I will offer it with all that I am. Even should it only change the path around my feet, the small part of the world I inhabit, in this tiny circle, there is light and warmth and hope for the taking, until the day comes when darkness is banished forever.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.