Light at the End of the Tunnel
By S M Chen, posted 11-3-2016 by D Kovacs
“Only those willing to walk in the dark with open eyes may see it.” –quoteaddicts.com
Imagine, if you will, an earlier time and place. A time so far removed, it strains comprehension and, perhaps, credulity. It may be close to the beginning of time as we know it. Perhaps even earlier.
I cannot tell you the exact place. I can tell you it’s somewhere on this planet.
It is before the whiteness and brightness of light, which has not yet been created. There is no day. Instead, a pervasive darkness covers the deep, the waters, and everything in between. All seems night, although it has not yet been called that. Neither Day nor Night has joined the pantheon of language.
But then the Almighty speaks into existence light, and the light is good. He does not make mistakes. He does not need to measure twice before cutting once (perhaps this is why He became a carpenter when He was incarnated and deigned to dwell among men).
And He enlightens by naming these contrasting states of illumination. He calls the light Day and the darkness Night.
Ever since, man has been governed by day and night.
He works by day, sleeps at night. Lives by the clock and calendar.
Russia, the largest country by geography, has 11 time zones. China, the most populous, has one. Both are arbitrary assignments, although the former is what has been employed by most of the rest of the world, with longitudinal meridians spaced at 15 degree intervals such that time corresponds with the rotation of earth on its axis, a bit under 23.5 degrees from true vertical.
Indeed, for a jet flying at the speed of the earth’s rotation (about 1040 mph) but in the opposite direction, the sun, as if suspended by an invisible string held by a puppeteer with steady hand, appears to move not at all.
Such experiments are comparatively easy and can verify scientific assumptions. Other predictions by giants of science have only been verifiable long after they were made. Some by Albert Einstein are only recently substantiated, confirming his genius.
Geniuses, albeit rare, like angels, walk among us. Often we do not recognize them.
They are so rare that the MacArthur Foundation no longer references “genius” in their annual grants.
Arthur Schopenhauer observed, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
genius hits a target that no one else can see.”
During certain seasons/solstices, places of extreme latitude far from the equator have long days or long nights. Still, man is governed by time. His Circadian rhythm is affected by light.
A condition known as seasonal affective disorder (apt acronym: SAD) afflicts some individuals, which is worse during certain seasons. Some have attempted to trick the body by exposing it to artificial light, such as that produced by fluorescent lighting, during times of darkness. Mother Nature has been around a long time. She can be difficult to fool.
It is a blessing that, since Eden, the labor that produces sweat on the brow during the day is given respite at night. We are not expected to work, to till the soil, to be productive when the sun dips below the horizon to illumine another part of the planet. It is someone else’s turn to labor as we rest.
For many, the tunnel is a metaphor for life.
The inception of life, as we know it, occurs when we emerge from a cramped, dark but warm tunnel to light so bright it dazzles and startles. Nothing can prepare us for it – or what lies ahead.
The tunnel ahead – a different one – is dark, somewhat narrow, and often long. Parts are damp from moisture (recalling sweat or tears) that drips from its ceiling and seems to ooze from its nonporous surface.
Footsteps echo like memory in its corridors.
Spiders have spun their webs (of deceit or perhaps temptation) in certain places. Those barely visible webs may entrap the best intentions of some, the dreams of others.
In some tunnels, one must needs be mindful of bats (creatures of harm or danger?) that hang upside down, reminiscent of clustered dried figs, sleeping during the day and venturing out at night to do what they do best.
We follow the dark tunnel of life toward the light, often weary, sometimes stumbling to the point of falling. Like the blind, we grope, feeling our way along the roughness, sometimes upright, sometimes crawling. The dankness fills our nostrils and penetrates bone deep.
Sometimes we slow, at other times we stop for rest, perhaps to shift the burdens that we bear.
Or to help a fellow traveler, that being a legitimate reason to stop and for which no expiation is needed.
At times we may think we are alone, but we are not.
In the gloom we, dimly, make out other figures. Some are ahead, some behind. Fellow pilgrims, all.
Some, mere shadows we could easily miss, huddle in the angle between wall and floor. They are the lost, the traumatized, the poor in spirit. They moan softly or are silent. They deserve our compassion and pity, not our scorn.
We stoop to comfort, to utter an encouraging word, to help them to their feet. Sometimes they rise; sometimes they do not. It is best that we not judge; we do not know where they have been or how they got there.
Despite the knowledge that but for the grace of God our roles could be reversed, there are times we fail to love in the manner in which we have been loved.
So, like the tides, we ourselves rise and fall. It is vital, upon falling (which we are bound to do at some point), to rise, to get up, to go on.
William Faulkner, in a different context, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature (1950), said, “I believe that man will not only endure. He will prevail.”
It would be well to remember that the Prince of Peace has trod this path, has traversed this tunnel. He has promised equanimity and more if we will but not forget.
His light ever draws those who retain HOPE (acronym for Hang On; Pain Ends).
For as Michael Josephson, ethicist, reminds, “The light at the end of the tunnel is your life; it’s the tunnel that’s temporary.”
S M Chen lives and writes in California.