A few years ago my wife, six-year-old son and I drove to Enfield NH to visit my brother. It was a cold and snowy winter day, the kind that calls to come out and play. After having visited for a while we all drove over to an old pasture on a hillside that made for perfect sledding, steep and wide with nothing to run into. It made for some wonderful fun. That evening, we were sitting by the wood stove in the living room and I heard the call of the outdoors again and asked if anyone would like to do some night sledding at the same hill we had used earlier that day. My wife and brother declined as the warmth of the wood stove seemed to be melting them into position. My son thought it a great idea, so we bundled up, then bundled up some more and went out into a magnificent nighttime winter scene that even Norman Rockwell couldn't have done justice to. As we approached the hill I was slightly disappointed in that a light on a pole on the hill that I thought would illuminate our activity wasn't working and the top half of the hill was in darkness. Assessing the situation however, I realized there was nothing to run into so I thought that maybe it would be even more fun in the dark. Up the hill my son and I went. When we turned around there was a pure white slope leading into darkness. We sat on the sled, put our feet up and headed down the hill. Even knowing that there was nothing that we could run into, there was still an added excitement as we raced into the dark. As soon as we came to a stop, my son was eagerly asking to do it again. All this winter activity was beginning to take its toll on me, so I suggested that Matthew try it alone. He was slightly hesitant but couldn't pass up the thrill and as he headed up the hill he soon disappeared into the darkness. A few minutes passed when a feint voice penetrated the darkness, "Dad, I can't see you." I answered, " I'm here, just get on the sled and you'll see me as you come out of the darkness." Then I heard "Here I come." Soon followed a most gleeful, excited screeching as he slid down into the dark. Soon I could make out a slight movement and then began to see him more clearly as he got closer. When he stopped I hadn't even finished asking how the ride went before he was running back up the hill with his sled.
I have often thought of these few minutes my son shared with me as being one of the greatest lessons I've ever learned in life. Not only was the time shared a gift but I soon realized that my son had taught me something that I recalled and have used often since that day.
His unquestioning trust in me led me to realize that my God asks the same of me when I'm in a personal darkness that may or may not be fraught with danger. When it's time for me to take a new path and leave an old destructive one behind and I don't know what's ahead and my fear begins to weigh me down, I often remember and hear a voice say, "Hank, I'm here, just get on the sled and you'll see me as you come out of the darkness"