I had to drive a teenage girl and her baby back to Wichita last night. The drive down was uneventful as both of them slept the whole way. When I have kids in the car, I am totally focused on driving but when I’m alone my mind wanders all over the place. The drive home was one of my most memorable and for good reason. For those of you who haven’t been to Kansas yet, let me encourage you to put it on your bucket list. The Flint Hills and the tallgrass prairie are two of God’s greatest masterpieces and I never get tired of making that trip. Of course, midnight wouldn’t be the best time to visit this vista but for those of us who live here it’s every bit as wonderful as daytime.
Last night was dark and cold but the sky was clear and there was almost no wind, which is rare on the plains. When I say dark just imagine wearing blinders, standing in a closet, inside a coal mine during a power outage. Night time in the Flint Hills is all-consuming. The new moon’s crooked little smile was nothing more than a bathroom nightlight offering up just one point of reference in an otherwise inky blackness populated with every star ever known to man. It was just the way I like it. The horizon started just past the edge of the pavement and gave my mind plenty to think about.
Cruising along the interstate at 77 mph with just white lines and truckers to navigate is the most enjoyable part of my job. The later it gets, the less the pros have to worry about the amateurs who just get in our way. I do some of my best thinking when I’m alone behind the wheel with nothing but hours ahead of me and happy kids behind me. I think it’s the absence of light that illuminates my thoughts. Without the distraction of scenery and signs and the occasional bad driver to invade my space, I can work out all kinds of details and wild ideas.
This ability is surely derived from all those hours spent in photographic darkrooms with my Dad. As he worked his magic with chemicals and film, he always told stories and asked me questions about my life. I could see his hands reflected in the one small red safelight but the rest of him was enveloped in black. His voice was my only other reference point and I was eager for the calm reassurance it offered. On the other hand, every once in a while he would disappear into another corner of the lab and then come back to scare me, just for fun. I learned a lot about channeling my thoughts and staying focused in those days of my youth and my Dad’s stories will always be my favorite memory. And, I’ve never been afraid of the dark since then, either.
For me, darkness is truly enlightening. It removes all the context and points of reference we are predisposed to favor in our thought process. It enables me to see more clearly the truth of the matter not just the popular opinions of others who are clearly not trying to bring clarity to any discussion. I have no doubt whatsoever that God created the universe and the night sky to bring us closer to him and to each other. The serenity that comes from realizing those stars were all organized in just such a way to make me reflect on the real meaning of life, to enjoy every minute without exception, is all I need to know to keep trying. Last night it finally got dark enough for me to see the stars.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.