Yet in the dark streets shineth

Sometimes the writing process feels like a huge dot-to-dot drawing.

I start with no idea what the final image will be. Moments, ideas, a song I heard on the radio, an article I read, a half-snatched conversation each acting as a dot, pointing to the shape of what is to be revealed.

I hold these ‘dots’ in my mind, scribbling a few down from time to time, trying to unravel what my subconscious is processing. And then the moment of clarity and often surprise, when I see the image emerge, as the line is drawn, connecting the dots.

Recent dots:

I got into bed a few weeks ago and looked around the room for something to read. I have about 5 or 6 books on the go at any one time, but none of these grabbed me on this particular night. I wanted a book like I used to read, a Christian book which told me how to make sense of everything. Something which with reassuring simplicity would give me a strategy, preferably in the form of a five-point plan. A book that would tell me how to do it – how to live. Something to make sense of the complicated-ness of life.

This week I heard on the radio of how Tim Peake blasted off from earth in a rocket to spend six months on a space station. With great confidence he embarked on a mission he had waited for and trained for his entire life. I thought about the vastness of space, about what he would see that I never will. I thought about the idea of being airless, of existing in a place with nothing to, quite literally, ground you. This has to be one of my greatest fears, and a good reason why I never saw the film ‘Gravity’ after watching the trailer. Terrifying. The spiralling in space with no solid place to set your feet.

On the radio I heard the phrase “I live in hope”. I have no recollection of who said it, or why, but it stayed in my mind all of that day, and keeps re-appearing. What does that mean ‘to live in hope’? Is it a present reality, to reside, to dwell in hope. Or is it about the future ‘I live in hope… of change, I live in hope … of peace”. And I felt that I am in both of these realities all the time. I have moments of utter peace, of well-being, of knowing that I am in the right place and that I am safe. And more than I would like to admit, I have many moments where I am desperate to feel the hope again, where the feeling of well-being has deserted me. Moments of terror, of anxiety-ridden free-fall. I inhabit the tension between the two.

And the slightly nervous truth that my dot-to-dot has revealed is the picture of a life where I am not certain of how things will turn out. A life where there is no easy solution. A life when easy answers are not enough, despite some part of me longing to read something that gives definitive solutions. This uncertainty often feels scary, the ground often seems to fall away and there is no where solid to place my feet. I often feel I am free-falling, clawing at the air, trying to find something to hold on to.

But then today, as we sat around the table after our Christmas Eve feast and with old friends, we read the story of a baby who came into a world of uncertainty. And just when the unpredictabilities of life were becoming too much, I remembered.


We read;

“This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night.

A light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness.

Helping people to see.

And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.”*


Even when I feel life is very unsure, when I don’t know that the future, or even tomorrow will bring, there is a light that will continue to shine. And I can ‘live in hope’, as I heard spoken of on the radio, because the truth of Christmas is both hope for now, in the complicated-ness of today, and hope for the future. An assurance that God came to earth to bring hope whatever the present or the future may bring. Because in the words of the Christmas carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem”

“Yet, in the dark streets shineth, the ever lasting light,

the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight.



*We read the story of the birth of Jesus from “The Jesus Storybook Bible”by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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