My wife and I spent a weekend recently in a little house way back in the woods in the country. We were miles from town, hundreds from the nearest big city. Evening fell. There was no moon that night. In the country, a moonless night means a kind of enveloping darkness we city dwellers seldom experience any longer.
My wife went to play cards with the neighbors for the evening and took our flashlight to light the way down the woodland path. I told her I’d be along later. When it was time for me to make my way through the woods I realized she had taken the only flashlight. Searching for some other light source, I found an old kerosene lamp. With the soot-blackened chimney sheltering a flickering flame, I made my way slowly along the twisting, turning path, flanked on both sides by fragrant pines.
About halfway down the path, a night breeze came up suddenly and blew out my lamp. I stopped and stood there, thinking at that moment how much I would give for a single wooden match with which to relight my flame. But technology had I none.
I stood with the useless lamp in my hand, stumped and more than a little afraid of the darkness – and gradually began to come alive.