…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Loaning Light

By Rex Goode


On Friday, I went on a day trip with some good friends. We visited a site near Mount St. Helens called the Ape Caves. Back in my Scouting days, I took a lot of Scouts there. It is one of my favorite destinations.

Because I have been there before, I knew that flashlights are mostly inadequate. Being mono-directional, they don’t provide any visibility to the sides. What you need is a lantern. The kinds of lanterns with cloth mantles and propane or white gas fuel are the best.

Before we left, I asked one of my companions to bring his propane lantern. We had some flashlights to supplement the lantern and off we went down the stairs and into the dark.

Once you get past the line of sight of the opening, try turning off all sources of light and wait for your eyes to adjust. They never will. No matter how large your pupils get, there is no light to get into your eyes.

I wanted to try this experiment to show my friends just how dark it was. I didn’t want to impede any traffic, so I moved over to the side to let a small family pass. Gesturing with my hand, I invited them to go ahead of us.

The father, who had a pack with a child in it on his back, said, “Oh, we are actually leaching off of your light. We only brought one weak flashlight.”

My friend with the lantern let me know that he didn’t want to do my experiment anyway, so we continued on followed by the small family. They followed us down to the end of the lava tube.

When my companions and I determined that we had seen enough, we went to turn back. I looked around for the family. They seemed to decided to hang around at the end. There were plenty of other visitors there with lanterns that could have brought them out.

While we walked and talked on our way out, I got a feeling that we weren’t alone. I turned around and saw that the young mother of the family was with us. She said she suffered from claustrophobia and asked if she could stay with us.

I was happy to allow it. I was carrying a small disk-shaped flashlight that had several bulbs that put out a lot of light. I offered for her to borrow it for the rest of the trip. I wasn’t intending to leave her. As good as my light was, it wasn’t as good as a lantern. I hoped that by giving her a light to hold, it would help her be a little more comfortable in the confined space of the cave. As we ascended the stairs out of the cave, she returned it to me with gratitude.

I think we often encounter people in our lives who have inadequate light and we ourselves are sometimes in that same condition. In dark places, light is a very hard thing to give away entirely. If you give your lantern to someone else in the inky blackness and they go their own way, you are left in the dark.

You can’t say, “Here. Take half of my lantern and go at your own pace.”

You must say, “Come along with me and we’ll find our way together.”

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