A few years ago my wife,
six-year-old son and I drove to Enfield NH to visit my brother.
It was a cold and snowy winter day, the kind that calls to come
out and play. After having visited for a while we all drove over
to an old pasture on a hillside that made for perfect sledding,
steep and wide with nothing to run into. It made for some
wonderful fun. That evening, we were sitting by the wood stove in
the living room and I heard the call of the outdoors again and
asked if anyone would like to do some night sledding at the same
hill we had used earlier that day. My wife and brother declined
as the warmth of the wood stove seemed to be melting them into
position. My son thought it a great idea, so we bundled up, then
bundled up some more and went out into a magnificent nighttime
winter scene that even Norman Rockwell couldn’t have done justice
to. As we approached the hill I was slightly disappointed in that
a light on a pole on the hill that I thought would illuminate our
activity wasn’t working and the top half of the hill was in
darkness. Assessing the situation however, I realized there was
nothing to run into so I thought that maybe it would be even more
fun in the dark. Up the hill my son and I went. When we turned
around there was a pure white slope leading into darkness. We sat
on the sled, put our feet up and headed down the hill. Even
knowing that there was nothing that we could run into, there was
still an added excitement as we raced into the dark. As soon as
we came to a stop, my son was eagerly asking to do it again. All
this winter activity was beginning to take its toll on me, so I
suggested that Matthew try it alone. He was slightly hesitant but
couldn’t pass up the thrill and as he headed up the hill he soon
disappeared into the darkness. A few minutes passed when a feint
voice penetrated the darkness, "Dad, I can’t see you."
I answered, " I’m here, just get on the sled and you’ll see
me as you come out of the darkness." Then I heard "Here
I come." Soon followed a most gleeful, excited screeching as
he slid down into the dark. Soon I could make out a slight
movement and then began to see him more clearly as he got closer.
When he stopped I hadn’t even finished asking how the ride went
before he was running back up the hill with his sled.
I have often thought of these few
minutes my son shared with me as being one of the greatest
lessons I’ve ever learned in life. Not only was the time shared a
gift but I soon realized that my son had taught me something that
I recalled and have used often since that day.
His unquestioning trust in me led
me to realize that my God asks the same of me when I’m in a
personal darkness that may or may not be fraught with danger.
When it’s time for me to take a new path and leave an old
destructive one behind and I don’t know what’s ahead and my fear
begins to weigh me down, I often remember and hear a voice say,
"Hank, I’m here, just get on the sled and you’ll see me as
you come out of the darkness"