Yesterday we took a trip to the old Crozet Tunnel. This tunnel in Afton was built through the Blue Ridge Mountains for trains in the mid 1800’s. It closed in 1944, but it was recently opened to bikers and pedestrians. In this photo I am standing on the east end of the tunnel pointing to a spec of light which is a mile away at the west end. Walking through the tunnel is beautiful and eerie. You need a flashlight because it is completely dark.
The light at the end of a tunnel is such a powerful metaphor as we all wait patiently for the grip of the Pandemic to loosen and end.
In my life I have known two different ways to hold this metaphor. The first one is waiting for the light at the end of a tunnel to finally appear or arrive—the hope that salvation is out there somewhere in the distance
The other is an on-going sense of hope and purposefulness that we might call faith. We all need a sense that things will get better, that we will arrive somewhere better. It can be a companion to us as we are progressing towards the light.
I have experienced my share of looking for the light at the end of a long tunnel through coping with chronic pain. When it began fifteen years ago, doctors were mystified and there was a lot of treatment that was driven by guesswork. I was on multiple medications and I had to give up a lot of things I had been enjoying in life. There were days when I was not sure I could keep on living. But I kept hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel.
In retrospect, that became the beginning of a significant healing journey for me. It was the catalyst for the second light at the end of the tunnel metaphor. I stopped relying on something out there, some tiny flicker of something in a dark tunnel, and started to cultivate that flicker in myself. Some days I could not and still cannot find it, but mostly it is a real light that guides me. It whispers, “Turn inward! Look inside! The answers are right here!.” This has led me to many somatic healing practices and has taught me the true meaning of compassion, compassionate even with my limitations. I have learned about the pain/brain connection and how much they rev each other up. And how to unwind their tight duo.
Recently I have been able to hike and bike again after many years of limited physical activity. I am feeling better than I have in years and most importantly I feel like I have some control over how I feel. I am not looking “out there” any longer.
In the tunnel yesterday my flashlight broke. It was fun to trust the dark and let me eyes gradually adjust to the tunnel’s environs. Of course I could see the light ahead, and I knew I could reach it, but what about when we cannot?
The beautiful images of the snow, the ice, the sun after so many days of clouds, dance in my head today.