One of my husband and I’s greatest joys in parenting has been taking our kids on adventures. Specifically, the outdoor kind. Missouri is known for its incredible cave systems, so one lovely fall day we decided to dip our toes into spelunking.
As the loving and protective mama bear of our tribe, I packed all the recommended items including three flashlights and one helmet per person. Halfway to the state park, however, we realized we were down to 1 ½ flashlights per person thanks to the unpacking skills of our youngest. But, we shrugged it off patting our trusty cellphones with flashlight capability (millenials, amiright?)
After a brief walk along the trail, we climbed down the cool steps and donned our helmets for the 166-foot walk to the end of Connor’s Cave. Once in the tunnel, I felt both the thrill of underground exploration and the terror of being a mother to small children. With the youngest in the backpack, I kept a solid grip on my preschooler’s hand.
In a dry spot, in between groups of fellow spelunkers, my husband suggested an unnerving but valuable experience. We held hands and turned off the flashlights (don’t worry, we had them strapped tightly to our wrists!) so we could experience total darkness. After about a second our older boys cried out. They didn’t like the feeling and wanted to turn back. We kept talking and holding their hands, assuring them we would keep them safe.
They pushed through their fear and kept going.
Our family values debriefing, so later, while walking another trail in the park, we asked the boys if it was worth it. We received a resounding YES. Our follow-up questions were meant to provide an opportunity to process and build problem-solving: What scared you the most? What could we do if we lost our flashlights?
As the summer sunshine fades and days get shorter and gloomier, I encourage you to process the darkness. Where is there darkness around you? Is it in your own life? A loved one’s?
Sometimes the flashlights are off for just a moment, and sometimes we fear the potential, but we can’t know what it feels like in the dark until all the flashlights are gone.
Identify the flashlight. Name the people who are a beacon of light in your life or be the flashlight to someone whose darkness is deeper than yours. Because only through joining hands and experiencing it together can we remind each other of the light of Christ and fight back against the powers of darkness.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Questions for Reflection:
Have you ever been in a cave or out on a starless night and experienced total darkness?
Have you ever felt like the flashlights were out and then realized you were just closing your eyes?
Have you experienced total darkness in your life?
To what or whom did you turn for help?
Where is the darkness winning right now?
Who can you hold hands and fight with?
Suggested Flashlight Activities
Listen to Living Water and experience Scripture (Ephesians 6?).
Leave your Bible open in a space you walk by often and read it throughout your day.
Call a friend.