My travels took my further and further until at last I came to the Land of Darkness, the veiled land, the shadowed place. It was as I had heard, a grim place, the people there walked in constant darkness neither knowing what direction they were travelling in nor where they were going. It was impossible to move without bumping into someone else. Within a day I had a growing collection of bruises from where I had tripped, fallen or been pushed to the ground.
In my entire time not one person said a kind word either to me or anyone else, it was a bleak land where nothing grew and nothing was good. Laughter was uncommon, happiness unheard of, joy unknown. The darkness itself seemed to be a malignant force that sapped the body and infected the mind. So imagine my surprise when on my second day there I caught a brief flash of light, a tiny flicker that were it not for the intensity of the darkness and the contrast it provided would have scarce been noticeable.
With sudden energy I picked up my slow pace and headed in its direction praying that it would shine again. It did, another flash, I was getting closer. Slowly but surely I got closer, to my shame I admit this involved a lot of shoving and even the odd push.Eventually I reached the source of this tiny light; it was a man, a hunched man who was trying to press something to the ground. I watched and saw the flash of light peek out from under a bowl under the man’s hands. He was hiding his light! He was crouched over it, pressing a bowl over it to stop even the tiniest beam of light escape and everytime a beam of light did escape he jumped and looked around wildly. What was this madness?
“Excuse me sir?” I asked the burning desire to know overcoming my reluctance to speak.
“Me? not me, I’m a nobody,”
“No sir, I am talking to you. Tell me: why are you hiding your light?” I asked my curiosity making me bold.
“Light? What light? I don’t have a light.” said the man, then he squealed as a beam of light lit up his face.
“The light which you are trying to hide! Why do you so good sir? Where did you get the light from?”
“The other people, the one’s without the light, they might laugh. They might hate me because I have the light and they don’t. They might try and hurt me.” I heard the man hunch up even more. This was getting more and more strange.
“I give you my promise as a Gentleman that I will not hurt you or tell any other about your light. Just tell me: how did you acquire this light of yours?”
“You promise to keep it secret?”
“It was given to me. The King of Light came to me and gave me, unworthy, wretched, me the gift of light. He looked at me and in his mercy he gave me the greatest gift he could. He gave his lamp to me.” The man’s voice took on an altogether different quality; it was suddenly strong and had no trace of his previous nervousness.
“And what his command to you when he gave you his light?”
“I was to go forth into this land of darkness and the lamp would shine like the stars! It was to blaze like the sun, I was to…” the man trailed off perhaps realising that he hadn’t obeyed the command given.
“Now tell me, why do you sit here and hide your light?”
“I am afraid.” he said, his voice quiet “I looked around me and saw the darkness of the darkness and I thought my light would not survive. I thought that if I let them see my lamp they would kill me. My arms grew weary, the lamp was so very heavy. So I hid it. But it strains against me, it wants to shine but it can’t. I won’t let it.”
As if in reaction to his words minutes went past without the light flashing. Silence fell between us. Here was a man that was terrified of the darkness and trusted not the light. Here was a man that was crippled by unbelief – for he had no confidence in himself which was admirable but he had no confidence in the lamp giver which was folly.
“Answer me this: was the King of Light afraid of the darkness?”
“No,” replied the man “I noticed that about him, he walked around this land freely, afraid of nothing, blazing with a light greater than any I have known.”
“Then if you have his light; why not ask as well for his strength and courage?”
“But would he answer me?”
“He commanded you to go forth and shine like the stars. Do you not think he would give you the means to do so? Does he not give us the ability to carry out his commands?”
“I suppose so,” said the man, his voice uncertain.
“Then ask and it will be given to you.” I said. Silence fell again, in the brief flashes of light I could see the man’s face creased in worry. Then he bowed his head and I caught a murmured request.
He tossed the bowl away, the lamp underneath flared in the darkness, for the first time in two days I could see. He lifted the lamp up so it’s light spread across the whole land. People looked up from their blind ways, saw the light and were amazed. The lamp shone brighter still, shining like the stars, bringing people from all around towards it. The light of the lamp of the King of Light pushed back the darkness.
And the man called out in a loud voice as the light reached an intensity that was bright enough to hurt my eyes.
“I come bearing the lamp of the light of the King, I come to tell you all to repent and turn to him. For he is the way, the truth and the light and you are all in darkness.”