Two weekends ago, I had one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had while flying . . . and given how much time I’ve spent on airplanes in my life, that’s no small statement.
On the way back home from New Mexico, the sight of small high desert towns and cities set against the inky blackness of an entirely contourless new-moon landscape caught my eyes and held them captive nearly the entire way to my stopover in Las Vegas.
The abnormal fascination came from the lack of natural context. Without some sign of the ground below, every populated area literally appeared to be a distant galaxy or nebula floating in the depths of limitless outermost space.
Except for the size of the window, it felt as if I were in 10 Forward cruising through the Alpha Quadrant at full impulse. I even half-expected Guinan to come over, in place of the flight attendants, and offer me some exotic alien concoction.
Another part of the attraction related to the visible reminder of my most profound spiritual encounter. It was like being submerged once again in the boundless presence of my Creator revealing to me the scope of His great love for us.
Unfortunately, that inky blackness surrounding Sin City was experienced in a whole different context the following weekend. A madman with an unknown agenda rolled the dice and played the odds, purposefully risking not money, but the lives of thousands of unsuspecting country music fans, in his final high stakes game.
Chaos descended in a way unfamiliar even to Strip regulars who had likely seen more than their share already. Evil was given yet another face and name.
But in the midst of such desperate tragedy, goodness, kindness, and generosity were given thousands of names and faces.
Every person who protected or helped another was a hero. And every one of these heroes became a beacon of light – brighter than the most audacious Vegas has to offer – shining out in ultimate contrast to the complete and utter darkness of that night’s terrifying events.
Processing through the night and into the next day, I vacillated between grief over the depravity of the situation and pride in the amazing displays of courage and humanity I felt privileged to witness. Honestly, I’m still in the process of processing . . . as are many of you.
Being in New Mexico for the second straight weekend when I learned the heartbreaking news, I found myself facing yet another flight home. Checking my tickets, I was relieved to be going through Phoenix instead of Las Vegas. The thought of landing only a few hundred yards away from the scene within 24 hours of the horrific incident was more than a bit unnerving.
Feeling somber as I boarded the plane, I was soon surprised to be transfixed yet again by the view from my window. This week’s earlier flight took off not long after sunset and, heading West, I found that we were literally chasing the light.
Layers of color took up residence on the horizon and did not relinquish their new home until we finally slowed down to land. It was breathtaking to witness the rainbow bridge slicing through the darkness on either side . . . and all the more meaningful given the shadowy circumstances of the past day.
In those moments, God showed me that the inky blackness can be overcome; that my heavy heart could dare to hope again. No matter the extent of the darkness, no matter how difficult it is to see our way through the present circumstances, Light will always win in the end.
Light dispels the dark, so we need to chase the Light.
Chase the Light when it seems the world – or your life – is crumbling.
Chase the Light in yourself when the temptation to give up or give in is at its loudest and most insistent.
Chase the Light in those around you who give so easily and generously of themselves.
Chase the Light in those you come across who have yet to understand the inherent worth, value, and beauty they already possess.
Chase the Light of the Gospel message that brings life and truth and freedom to all who will believe.
Chase the Light . . .
And never stop . . .
Because we all just bore witness to what can happen when people don’t . . .
And because you’ll quickly find that the Light has always been chasing you . . .
Image: My actual view from the plane on the second trip home . . . it was truly amazing!!