As she gathered the fallen rotting apples into her skirt, she could feel the presence of danger. She stopped and looked up to see herself surrounded by ten Doberman pinschers staring her down, growling, frothing, ready to attack. She froze in fear and prayed, Lord, let it happen quickly. But it didn't. They didn't move. Then a man's voice "What are you doing here? You are trespassing, and these dogs are trained to kill, but for some reason, they haven't killed you. If I see you here again, I'll kill you myself".
This was one of the stories Gina Schoenherr, our current Artist-in-Residence, shared with me about her mother. As a young woman with two small children in Germany during the time of the holocaust, her mother lived in fear, darkness, hunger, and dread. She escaped death many times, yet she never lost hope. After living for 5 years in a displacement camp, she brought her two children to a new life in America.
Stories of courage like this amaze me - the determination of the human spirit, the love of a young mother, and her trust in a God who is faithful. We all have experienced darkness in our lives, maybe not to the extent of Gina and her mom, but we can relate to it in our hearts because we know - we've seen glimpses of darkness and evil. Some of us have endured dark valleys. Some of us may be in one right now.
But darkness doesn't win. Darkness can be the backdrop for the stars in the night sky. Richard Evans said “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” I believe the way out of darkness is found in a simple word: hope. Hope is the light that shines through the darkness. Hope can sustain us and bring us to a brighter place.
In her book, All Creation Waits, Gayle Boss writes, "The dark is not an end but the way a new beginning comes.". These days leading to Christmas are known as the season of Advent, which means coming. It is an ancient advent custom to light a candle each night, adding a candle each Sunday, greeting Christmas Eve with four flickering candles. Each candle is a symbol: hope, joy, love, and peace. It's a custom that I look forward to every year - lighting a candle, reading a bit of scripture or a devotion, and singing a verse from a familier Christmas hymn. It helps me prepare. It settles me, calms me, and reminds me of the hope that we have - the One that we wait for. That's the baby in the manger - our savior, Jesus. He's the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome him. (John 1:5)
How about you? Where are you right now? If you feel surrounded by darkness, remember that a new beginning is coming and hope is the way through. Join me tonight in lighting a candle of hope. “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” - Anne Frank
So much truth in those words.
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!