Rain has been falling steady here in the Smokies. The earth, saturated, seems to sag a bit under the weight. Trees that burned with color a day or two ago now stand nearly naked, shivering under the sodden sky.

We moved to Western North Carolina in late summer when the hills were layered with all manner of glory and green. Our town lies in a valley between great stands of the Pisgah Forest, and we marveled at the vernal silence and seclusion, only a coyote’s cry breaking the blackness or the neighborhood rooster punctuating the paragraphs of our mornings.

But last night? On our way down into town? As the road dropped beneath us we were astonished to see pinpricks of light piercing the darkened hills. Houses previously hidden emerged from the dusk like the beacons of ships passing at sea.

“Amazing how our view changed overnight,” I said to Mike as we drove. “I never knew there were homes on that ridge or that we have neighbors that close.”

It’s comforting, in a way, to know we’re not alone. We miss the lush foliage, but now that it’s fallen away we can see farther than we ever have before. That which was invisible to eyes besotted with beauty now stands clear.  

It took a storm to drop the curtain between the world we had seen and the one waiting to be seen.

Have you ever arrived late at a movie theatre when the lights have already dimmed? You stand clutching your popcorn at the end of an aisle wondering how you’ll find your seat in the darkness.

Then your pupils dilate to let in more light, and the silhouettes of those already seated emerge from the gloom. Relieved, you hurry to your seat. Now you can watch the show.

Funny, isn’t it, that only darkness brings out the light. Strange, in a way, that relinquishing that which we love widens our vision to a view of the world reborn.

Glorious, don’t you think? that there is more, always more, to this world than we know.

I’m thinking of you today, friend, the one with the child riding life wide open and hell-bent when you ache to see him heaven-bound instead.

And you, sister, the one who’s tired of being sick. And just plum tired.

And I’m thinking of you, brother, feeding your flock everything you’ve got till there’s scarcely one holy crumb left and you go empty, like a momma feeding her family while pretending she’s not hungry herself.

Wait a while, friend, until your eyes adjust to the dimness. Grieve, there now, because those tears are washing the view purely clean.

 Rest, won’t you, in the knowing you are not alone. 

The Source of light and the Maker of stars is also the Giver of strength.

Hush now and come sit by me. We’ll wait for the light we could not see.