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Alone in the Light

There was a dead beetle on the bathroom floor the night I got home from Hutchmoot.

I thought it was dead, anyway, until I turned on the light. The sudden illumination set off whatever reactions or thoughts would normally send a shiny-backed bug skittering off into darkness. But this bug was going nowhere. It was stuck on its back, flailing in vain for a foothold. It gave up quickly enough – so quickly that I guessed it had been stuck there a long while, exhausting itself with kicking against air.

All I could think was, If N.D. Wilson were here, I bet he could tell me the exact manner in which such bugs are hatched, and the likelihood of this particular bug ever coming into existence, and the chances of its story ever bringing it to my bathroom, and the wonder of it ever being my bathroom to begin with, augmented by the miracle of my own existence. But N.D. Wilson wasn’t there, and I was left to try to do justice to the beetle’s meaning and being on my own.

Having thus considered the bug for a moment, I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. That actually had less to do with my awe at its existence than with my general disinclination to feel and hear a crunchy death under my foot. I also couldn’t muster the compassion to set six little feet aright and watch them scurry into my bedroom.

So I left it to die alone.

Here I must ask you to forgive the weakness of my words. I in no way intend to suggest a comparison between beetles and human beings. But the plight of the beetle did put a picture to a certain fear of mine, and it is this: that you were flailing, exposed, and exhausted while I basked in the light, and I did nothing.

Hutchmoot is, I think for many of us, a haven. It’s a flood of God’s light and love over our injuries and fears. But sometimes light exposes and chafes what is too raw yet for binding up. It sends you into hiding. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like grace. Sometimes it just makes you mad.

I’ve been there. I have watched the happy masses drinking in that light, glowing with it, sloshing it around in buckets of laughter. I have stood at a distance, wondering why it was so easy for them. Resenting them for it. Resenting myself. I’ve been desperate to feel what they felt.

It hurts me to think that someone may have left Hutchmoot feeling that way. But if you did, I want you to know that you are not forgotten.

I thought of you during the closing session, and I daresay I’m not the only one. I wondered if you sat with a clenched jaw, filling up with bitterness as inaccessible joy and gratitude spilled around you. Or maybe you had to look away when others told how their fears subsided, because yours never did. Such frustration – when you have tasted beauty but not been able to swallow it. And when the Facebook feed filled with the overflow, I wondered if you stuffed your pain and clicked “like” because being honest was too risky. Maybe you just shut it down altogether.

Hutchmoot “worked” for everyone else. There must be something wrong with you.

Don’t believe it.

I want you to know that you really do belong here, and you are truly not alone. I want to ask you to forgive me, friend, for failing to see you. Forgive me if I was too squeamish to come near your crackling pain. Forgive me if you were groping for a foothold, and I switched off the light and walked away.

Please don’t give up.

When you are ready, come. Please come and let us love you.


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