When I first heard the words “sheltering in place,” that everyone would have to stay at home and not gather with family or friends for several weeks, I instantly thought “Oh no, not another tunnel.” Then I wondered how long it would take to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
And now, many weeks later, I’m asking “How much longer, Lord?”
Tunnels have become a way for me to think about difficult times, an unexpected illness, the loss of a loved one, and other life events that take us by surprise. Looking back at the stories I’ve written in the past, I found that a tunnel of some sort shows up almost every Easter. Now you know me, my mind ran amuck again and created all kinds of crazy scenarios as to why and I wrote dozens of stories that went in the shredder. The important thing to remember is there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Check the picture.
As I struggled with not being with my family on Easter day, I traveled back in time. I pulled out my old picture albums and visited the 1960s when my daughters were little. Time travel via photographs and memories turned a sad day into a sweet and lovely day. How precious those times were.
One Easter I wrote about a scary tunnel, the 17-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Virginia Beach and Cape Charles, Virginia. When we started onto the bridge it felt like we were driving on the ocean, then after about three miles the bridge dipped and disappeared under the sea into the first of the tunnels. The tunnel is well lit, but it’s a very eerie feeling. You know you are under the ocean and you can hear the roar. The tunnel surfaces about midway and there’s a restaurant, gift shop, view points, and a fishing pier. After spending a little time there, we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way. You have no choice at that point because the only way to get back to land is to go down into the tunnel again. There were two more tunnels and lots of low level bridges before we reached the other side. And, yes, I was thrilled and relieved when we came up from under the water and saw daylight.
I remember many other tunnels in my life, day-to-day small problems to the more serious ones, such as taking care of a very sick loved one and the hard times of grief when I couldn’t find the light. The truth is—the light was always there if I looked for it. I’m thinking you might be remembering a few tunnels you have gone through, too.
Sheltering in place definitely qualifies as a tunnel. COVID-19 came out of left field and blindsided us as did sheltering in place. After so many weeks, it has become the new “abnormal,” I’m not going to say “normal.” Coronavirus continues to take its toll on mankind all around the world. Some people are feeling like it will never end, others are saying when this is over the world will be forever changed. Maybe it will. There are certainly things that need to be changed.
The one consistent thing about tunnels is they all reach the light at the end. It doesn’t matter if they have blasted through a mountain, gone under the ocean, or kept us in our homes. It doesn’t matter how long or short they are, what matters is that the light was and is always there. Sheltering in place will end. We will leave our homes, go shopping, go to church, go out to dinner with friends, and go to all the places we used to go. And maybe we’ll have a new appreciation of what is important in life.
But remember, when we get out of the tunnel and the world is back to normal, the Light will still be there. The Light of the world came wrapped in human form more than 2000 years ago. This little baby who was born in a manager grew up and took on himself the sins of the world when he died on a cross, but his Light didn’t stay out. Jesus defeated death and forever brought Light to this world when He rose three days later.
Tunnels—they show up in many different ways and most often when we don’t expect them. It’s just part of life. They are not all easy ones and we struggle to reach the light. The fantastic part is that the Light of the World is with us even in the tunnels…that’s what makes the darkness disappear.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” —John 8:12