When I was younger, I was terribly afraid of the dark. My imagination was wild with what lay in the dark shadows and corners of the dark. I wasn’t so afraid of skeletons or ghosts, but rather people. I was afraid of real things that could be lurking or watching.
The basement at night terrified me. It was large and unfinished until my late teens. There were boxes, furniture, and storage items strewn across the rooms. During the day, there was nothing spectacular about it. It was cold and dull with its gray cement floors and steel pillars. We would roller skate and play in the dress up box during the day. We would walk down to help my mom with the laundry. We would wander down and steal the candy out of the 72 hour kits that my mother had made so faithfully at Relief Society homemaking. It was a retreat for a group of rowdy kids during the day.
Night turned that ordinary, gray basement into a something far more sinister. The boxes and storage that innocently sat on the outskirts of the room now cast eerie shadows and shapes on the walls, ceilings and floors. For the creative mind, these shapes could become nearly any dark intruder that could be imagined There were creaks and cracks of little movements of the people upstairs that would catch you off guard and make you gasp with fear.
There was a single light in the middle of each large space connected to a pull string. You couldn’t simply turn on the light at the edge of the room. You would have to walk to the very center of the room in order to pull the string to turn on the light. Those few steps, stepping into the darkest part of the room were the worst. You put yourself at a very vulnerable state and position. You had to leave the security of knowing where the wall was and walking into the dark space. The very dark space. The place between the wall and the light pull may have only been a short space in actuality, but in the dark, in the unknown, it took every ounce of courage and faith to walk the eternity of those few steps to turn on the light.
Even now, at my rocking old age of 38, I have a fear of the dark. I know that nothing is there. I know that I am fine, but it is still frightening. I still hold to the edge of the wall as I search for the light in the basement. I still turn off the lights and run for my life up the stairs when I leave the basement at night. In this case, knowledge and reality are completely masked by fear and uncertainty.
I have found that to be true so often in life. When the lights are on and all is well, it is easy to maneuver through the events that come our way. We are able to do so with relative ease and convenience as we can identify our surroundings and can figure our way through them.
However, when the lights go off and we are given a trial of our faith, things tend to change. Life becomes scary and we cling to the little bit that is recognizable. The ordinary and easy are masked in the dark and can cast shadows of doubt, fear and disorientation. It takes so much courage to simply let go of the edge and walk those few steps to where we know where the source of the light is and be brave enough to pull that cord. It is those few steps, that are the hardest. Always.
At the end of it all, when we are able to see through the light, we are amazed at to how simple life has become. It is the courage of letting go and walking in the dark, having faith that as long as we are walking towards the light, all will be good… in the end. As is the famous quote. “It will all be ok in the end. If it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.”
Years ago, my mission president told me this quote and it has stayed with me. I love it and fall back onto when I have moments of uncertainty, doubt and darkness. It is a quote that his mother used to tell to him. I love this and plan to pass this along as part of my legacy.
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the
And he replied:. ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand
Of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.”
Minnie Louise Haskins