Dark Tunnels

November 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and
compassionate and righteous man. —Psalm 112:4

I love Holy Week. The visual and daily readings of the Passion of Christ place the believer in the thick of the crucifixion experience, reminding us of Jesus’s amazing sacrifice.

I thought I’d seen everything, but when Jim and I attended our first musical Tenebrae on Good Friday at a Bible Church I was stunned. What a powerful experience!

The Anglican Church always had a service on Maundy Thursday. It was very moving but I never knew why I left with such a sense of hopelessness, especially at the end of the service when the altar is stripped. Everything that related to Christ—light, candles, Scripture, and crosses—was taken out of the room, one by one, to be replaced by emptiness. I didn’t realize it but this was a Tenebrae service.

Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning shadows or darkness. A Christian service in the Western Church, it is celebrated in many ways by Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and Protestants. The common denominator involves a gradual extinguishing of candles while readings and psalms are chanted or sung.

If you haven’t attended a musical Tenebrae, you must. At the climax of the performance, with the choir sounding like angels from heaven, Jesus moves toward the crucifixion. As the candles are extinguished the auditorium is left in total darkness. The significance of the extinguished light is not lost on the audience.

What a visual picture of a spiritual truth. Without the light of Christ to permeate the dark, all truth and hope are blotted from view—total darkness.

I don’t know how many of you have ever been in total darkness. I have, and it’s scary.
There is a train in Europe that runs between Austria and Italy. For a fee, a car can make a reservation that takes a shortcut through the mountains, on the back of a flatbed train. In the convenience of one’s car, a train carrying its load winds through a dark tunnel. Much like a ferry on water, the winding mountain drive is shortened by hours.

I knew that tunnels were dark. But inside the car, on top of that flatbed train, I wasn’t prepared for such darkness. At one point, I insisted we turn on the light inside the car just so I could get my bearings. The whole experience was disorienting.

Isn’t that how we are in the middle of a spiritual crisis? When we are in a dark place, it’s darker than we anticipated. Yet God is the engineer of our train. He can navigate us through any tunnel. We just have to trust, knowing that we are in good hands, for he has promised light at the end of the tunnel.

While in the tunnel, disorientation often takes over. In that case, there is only one thing to do. Turn the light on, reorient ourselves, and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Only by turning on the power are we able to find our way.

What a good word for the twenty-first century, especially for mothers and grandmothers. Keeping dark tunnels and trains front and center in the mind go a long way in keeping us focused.

About Marty Norman

Marty Norman is a wife, mother, and grandmother of five, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of “Generation G – Advice for Savvy Grandmothers Who Will Never Go Gray.” You can learn more about her at www.martynorman.com. To receive her monthly newsletter "The Savvy Grandmother email savvygrandmother@gmail.com.
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One Response to “Dark Tunnels”
  1. Dawn Wilson says:

    Thank you for an informative article, Marty. I shared the link on my Facebook page. (I never knew what Maundy Thursday or Tenebrae meant.) I love the line: “Without the light of Christ to permeate the dark, all truth and hope are blotted from view ~ total darkness.” What a commentary on our times and culture… less light today, for sure.

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