The rain starts with drops like sizzles and soon it is pounding like popping corn on the windshield. I clutch the steering wheel hard, shoulders hunched, wipers on full speed with two of my three girls nearly asleep in back.
We drive long for a much too-short visit with family in Central Oregon, and it is beautiful to be together, but only twenty-eight hours at the ranch house when all is said and done just is not enough.
The day before, the girls and I drove through early morning light — they eating bananas rolled in cereal that their papa made for them, me sipping from a travel mug he filled for me.
The sky was all shades of purple and miracle, the trees coral and ruby.
Our way home the next day is through a dark late afternoon. We pass Whispering Falls Campground, and the drops are a gentle whoosh. By the time we reach Niagara Park, it falls full hammering flood.
We drive for a long time under a canopy of thick fir trees, and Sici says from the backseat how dark it is and asks the time. We both can hardly believe it is only 3:30.
The rain keeps pummeling pavement and kicks up clouds sharp powder gray.
One morning this week, I told some friends about my late teens and early 20’s, where obsessive thinking was my torrential storm. I tried to fight my way out of the dark that none could see from my outside, and while I fought, I wrapped guilt, shame and burden around myself.
They made bad coverings and horrible weapons, left me shivering and cold.
Still, the rains pounded, unrelenting.
I tried to talk myself out of the thoughts that accused and called me a fraud, the ones that said I would leave deep wounds. I tried to be better and do better. I tried to pretend the darkness didn’t exist. But the pitch black sinkholes were everywhere — I knew that — and as soon as I avoided one, I’d drop into another.
So, I’d redouble my efforts to fight off the attack and the fall, and fail again. I was weary.
But in the middle of the nasty stage whispers and spittle-flying yells, a still, small voice cut through to the front.
The voice brought peace, rest and solid ground, and because it sounded so different than all the others, it got my attention.
I began to stop trying so hard to unravel the tormenting, began to slow at the effort-ing, began to outright refuse to plunge deeper into dark places to try to rescue myself — searching for explanations that would not come because the still, small said, I’ve got this.
This is how I spoke out the ugly dark to my someday husband, nearly shaking in fear that he would leave me, and how I held up the white flag and cried long for God to fight my battles, laying down the weapons I’d made myself.
The dark had tried chasing me into a hole, to the corners, crushing me under its heft, but it was no match for Light. So I spoke my fears out loud and released my grip on the fight and opened the door. WIDE.
Light streamed in, full flood.
I am driving under the canopy, and it is dark. The rain still pours, my windshield wipers do the back and forth. I feel my fingers cramping in their grasp around the wheel.
But what I can’t stop seeing through the rain is the color that just keeps coming, streaks and dots of light amidst the pitch.
Against the black, these school buses, these quaking aspen, these startling maples, these diamond signs, these dashed reflective lines — they are shining pure gold.
Piercing straight through the middle of the dark.