Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The last time my wife and I visited Alaska, we were privileged to ride the White Pass and Yukon Line from Skagway, Alaska to the top of White Pass in British Columbia. The scenery was magnificent; the rail road, built in 1898, a marvel of engineering. During our excursion, we passed through two tunnels inside of which the rail cars are immersed in obsidian darkness. I, for one, was glad to emerge once again into the light. The image of light at the end of the tunnel is a popular one. People experiencing or emerging from hard times speak of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Others speak of hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. Still others opine that "due to the current crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off," and "things always look the darkest right before the light goes completely out." The vision of light at the end of the tunnel says that darkness and gloom are temporary, that we can hope one day to emerge into glorious light. I've spent time in the tunnel. All of us have. I've stumbled forward and cringed as each hint of light proved to be an oncoming train of some sort. And I've survived. And then, one day, as I saw a light and stepped to the side to avoid the oncoming train, I discovered that was no wall. I looked up and saw sky, and twinkling stars and realised I was no longer in the tunnel. When and where I had emerged were lost to me. I was out of the tunnel, and free to go left and right at will. It was night and still dark around me, but there was light ahead. The light wasn't at the end of the tunnel -- I'd left the tunnel long ago -- but ahead, on the horizon, the dawn of a new and promising day.