One day you’re holding your child’s hand and you trip over something, and fall in to a crack in the ground.
The further you fall, the darker it gets. There’s very little light coming in, and you can’t really see much by it at all. You screw up your eyes, clasp your child’s hand very tightly and you tell them everything will be ok. You shout for help, but all you can hear is your own voice echoing in the darkness.
You slip down a bit more, and now there’s barely any light at all. You still hold your child’s hand tightly, and you reassure them, but now you’re not really sure at all if things really are going to be ok. But you don’t tell them that. You stop shouting for help, as you don’t want to scare your child.
One day, you see a chink of light, and someone calls down to you ‘Are you ok down there?’. Your eyes water as you’re not used to the light any more, and your voice is a bit hoarse, but you manage to shout back (in a very polite way) ‘Erm, not really! To be honest it’s a bit dark where we are. We could do with a torch, and maybe some rope?’.
The voice, incredulous, replies: ‘You mean you don’t already have a rope? Surely the person who was here before me gave you one?’. ‘No!’ You reply. ‘You’re the first person to call down to us.’
‘I can’t believe that!’ says the voice. ‘Look, you just hang on in there. I’m going to go and talk to some other people and see if we can’t find you a rope. It’s in short supply at the moment, rope, but I will try. In the meantime the best thing you can do is just stay where you are, ok? And look round for a torch. There’s definitely one down there’.
‘Ok..’ you reply, not convinced. You start searching.
Time passes. Your child tries to get your attention about something, but you are too focussed on searching for this bloody torch. The voice said there was one. If you look hard enough, work hard enough, try hard enough – surely you will find it! Your child is insistent. But you just don’t have the time to stop and listen properly.
You’ve lost track of time now. You can’t remember how long you’ve been down there. Not only that, you can’t remember why you’re down there at all, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Another voice shouts and makes you jump: ‘Hey! Are you chaps ok down there?’
‘Thank goodness!’ you reply, ‘we’ve been down here for ages. The person who was here before said there were going to find a rope and come back, but they never came!’
‘Surely not!’ The voice replies. ‘I can’t believe you’ve been down there without any help. That’s not right, not right at all. I’m going to go and talk to some people, find a rope and come and get you out. Have you found a -‘
‘Torch?!’ you snap back. ‘The last person said I had to find a torch, but there isn’t one! What we need is a bloody rope!’
‘I’m so sorry you feel like that’, says the voice. ‘It’s just that there are so many of you stuck in these places that it’s really hard for us to try and get you all out. Especially with – ‘
‘…not enough rope to go around?’ you interject.
‘Yes, that’s right. How did you know?’ said the voice.
‘Just a lucky guess’, you reply, resignedly.
It goes quiet again, and you’re tired. Tired of waiting for rope that never comes. Tired of looking for a torch that doesn’t even exist. Tired of being lonely and relying on help that doesn’t exist. You sit down, and for the first time, you listen to your child as they pull on your arm. You can feel them pressing something in to your hand. Your fingers close around it, and you feel a switch. Click.
You are incredulous! ‘Where did you find this?’ you ask. ‘And why didn’t you give it to me earlier?’.
‘I tried to tell you mum’, they reply, ‘but you were too busy. It was in my pocket all the time, but I couldn’t turn it on. I knew you could though’.
You shine the torch around in the darkness, and it’s then that you realise that you’re not alone at all. As you begin to move around, the torch your child gave you in your hand, you see that there are other people down here! It’s unbelievable! Some of them are in the dark, but the light from your torch brightens the area around them, and they are so grateful.
‘Don’t thank me! Thank him..’ you say, putting your arm around your child and feeling a rush of pure love, understanding, appreciation and gratitude. And pride too. In that moment, you are so very proud of them.
As you continue on your journey, you pick up other people along the way. Some of them have torches, some of them just have a candle, and some of them have huge lanterns – spilling a warm orange glow wherever they go. More than enough light to go around.
Finally you begin to relax. You stop worrying. There’s so much light here, you just needed to know when to listen, and where to to look.
The people who promised the rope never came. That’s not to say they won’t ever come, but at least you know that you can survive down here without it. A little bit of light is all you need.