Smack dab in the middle of Advent, nearing the darkest time of the year, in the weekend gospel it will be proclaimed, “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:3). Amidst the darkness, and behind closed doors, will the light shine enough to draw us out?
I have gone fishing in Canada for 47 years to the same location; starting with my dad when I was 14 years old. Thiry-five years ago, my dad and a buddy had tipped a canoe while fishing below some rapids, four portages away from main camp. They each lost their large tackle box and a couple of fishing rods & reels.
Later that summer, four of us were up fishing again, including my dad, a co-worker, my wife, and me. Since Rita and I had come back from our honeymoon to Hawaii that past winter where I had done a bit of scuba diving, I suggested that we haul scuba equipment up, and I would dive and look for the fishing gear.
A mile from camp and four portages away where a thunderstorm was brewing at the main camp (my wife and co-worker were in camp holding onto the tents); I was tethered to a rope and in the water wearing scuba equipment. I went down fast the first time with a basic scuba light. To my surprise, it was over 20 ft. of water, and also pitch black due to the high mineral content in the water. Down a second, third, and fourth time I went. Even with the light, I could not see more than 2 feet in front of me. The angle of the bottom, when I got closer to shore, was the only clue I had of what direction I was going. Eventually, I did find my dad’s large tackle box and one rod & reel. The last time I went down, the rope that I was tethered to came loose. Not tethered any longer to life back on the surface, my dad told me upon surfacing, “as long as I could see your bubbles, I knew you were still alive.”
This time of year reminds me that the holidays are not joyous for everyone. Due to personal or family losses, it can be a dark time of year in the private rooms of our mind; being untethered from any normalcy as others seem to be so joyous and merry. I have my own private darkness, when direction can be a challenge, with over 30+ years of struggle with a chronic back disability, SADD, and Bipolar II mental illness. I pray now, every year at this time, that the darkness and whispering that accompanies grief & loss, pain, anxiety, and depression become understood more, empathized with more, and funded more, so the multitude of individuals who struggle and suffer from them are more warmly embraced by love, care, and acceptance. Seemingly untethered from any normalcy, to those who find it difficult to go towards the light, the call of light, the call of Jesus, is to be light to those in darkness.
Dn Mick Humbert