Dear Porch Lights: Why Can’t Love Do More?

Dear Porch Lights,

Running from dusk towards dark, you led me home. So often, darkness is interrupted by light and love. It’s hard to know it’s coming, it’s hard to wait for it, it’s hard to even see it sometimes, but I believe it’s there.

Tonight, as I ran, my heart was heavy as I wrestled with some big questions about the world: how much love does it take to save someone? What are the limits to what love can do? How can light be big enough, when darkness sometimes feels so much bigger? How do we wait for light to come, when we can’t see it? And what do we do when it doesn’t seem to show up?

And why, oh why, can’t love do more?

As I ran, I felt my heart opening, like springtime. The streets were emptying of people, the sky becoming dusk. Ashes to ashes. With every breath, I remembered I was alive. Dust to dust. That with all the ugly and painful and unpredictable in the world, we can choose to look for and see the beautiful. Sometimes the beautiful is a wedding or birth of a baby, and sometimes it’s a daisy growing in a roadside ditch of weeds while, that spot of bright yellow calling you as you run by, out of energy, out of breath, out of motivation to keep going. Sometimes it’s knowing something is there, when you can’t see it. Sometimes it’s a porch light.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear… because thou art with me.

As I ran and dusk gave way to dark, it was the street lights, garden lights, and porch lights that kept me going. The spots of brightness along the way like onlookers holding candles or torches, lighting the path. I started to see them in new ways, be aware of them on every block, take photos of them, notice how they lifted me up, how they reminded me that I was on my way home, that I have a home, that home is where the light is.

As I ran I felt grief lower itself into my heart, and come back out at the same time. It came, it left, it felt both heavy and light. Both burdened and rescued. Both caught and free. It flew like a hummingbird trapped in a living room, banging into the light.

As I ran, I was alive. I felt alive. I breathed deep alive breaths and watched porch lights come on with alive alertness. But so many others weren’t alive at all.

Earlier today, in the mid-afternoon, I attended a funeral along with a few friends of mine, in Stratford. A very unspeakable sad and sudden loss for this family who in actuality started losing their father/brother/son several years ago. They were coming to terms with what rescue does and doesn’t look like, and the limits of human love in terrible circumstances. They did not deserve to lose him. He did not deserve to be lost. No matter how much we love someone else, no matter how much we hope for them and desperately want them to be ok, sometimes it doesn’t always seem enough to call on the light we hope for. Light comes on its own terms, in ways we never expect, at times we never even hoped for, in places we never thought we’d see it. And sometimes we can’t see it at all.

I have no answers. I pray that this family find moments of light to hang onto. May they see the rescue when they least expect it. May they feel the release when the hummingbird finds its way out that door again. May they know that even porch lights, reminders of darkness, are also reminders that hope exists even where we absolutely can’t see it.IMG_9934

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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

6 thoughts on “Dear Porch Lights: Why Can’t Love Do More?

    1. Thanks so much Sharon for your kind comments and for stopping by. Sometimes blogging about something is the best way to make sense of it, you know? I feel so grateful to have this forum and to be in conversation with other bloggers.

  1. Beautiful. I love the imagining of lights as onlookers carrying candles and torches, cheering you on as you ran.

    1. thank you so much Emily for reading along and offering your kind words. Someone told me once that the people who are witness to our run (our cheering folks) are the ones who keep us going… and their cheering is light for me. So I had this in mind that night as I was running.

  2. Just beautiful Debra. I love “reminders that hope exists even where we absolutely can’t see it. — “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). Praying with you right now for the family… xox

    1. Oh thank you, Rhonda. The verse is a beautiful reminder, and the prayers are so appreciated. xo

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