Eyes in the Dark: A Choose Your Own Adventure

Eyes in the Dark

Choose your own adventure by following the prompts after the intro below. Ready, set, go!

I was walking the dog in the dark the other day, which happens a lot this time of year in this part of the world. We’re past the winter solstice but won’t really notice for quite some time. I was thinking, as I walked in a dark foggy drizzle, how the places with the most sun right now are even colder. Take McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where the sun doesn’t set until February 21st, but the high temperature still doesn’t break freezing. On the other hand, I could be back in Wiseman, AK where the sun has climbed to a grand total of about 3 hours of daylight and a toasty -20°F.

It’s about this time in my meanderings when my dog suddenly froze at my side – not from cold, but from something that caught her nose off to the left. I swung my head to look in the glare of my headlamp. Through the bushes and into the field beyond, two, then four set of eyes reflected back.

Do you creep closer to see what they are? Go to AA.

Have you already had enough adventure for this year (yes, even though it’s only January) and prefer a nice simple reflection and a cup of tea? Scroll down to YY.

AA. Eyes in the Dark

The eyes are too far from the ground to be coyotes and there are too many of them to be bears, so I move as close as I can into the bushes. I swing my headlamp trying to catch the shape of them, but there is nothing but blackness and the floating eyes. When I move the light they disappear entirely, only to reappear the moment my light catches their eyes. Deer?

I hear a sudden clang and recognize the bell worn by the small flock of sheep normally pastured farther up the road. Well, that’s anticlimactic. Which is my preference as far as mysterious glowing eyes go. I used to tell myself there is no difference between walking in the dark and walking in the light. But that all changed.

To read how I revised my darktime theory, scroll down to LL.

If you’d prefer a daytime adventure now, go to DD.

DD. Daytime Adventure

You can certainly see a lot more interesting things when walking in the light. Oh, you miss out on the moon and stars and mystery eyes, but it’s much easier to not bump your shin when walking with an actual light rather than the mere reflection of one.

I recently came across this chair chainsawed out of a stump. And these ice crystals frozen like a Christmas tree star resting atop stiff blades of grass. A neighborhood messenger reminded me to “Celebrate Each New Day.” So many times even when I have the opportunity to observe my surroundings I am too preoccupied to notice. Sometimes I need a daytime adventure to remind me of this. It doesn’t have to be big or exotic. I merely have to notice.

For one final celebration, go to NN.

If you’d like to wrap this adventure with a cup of tea, go to ZZ.

LL. Dark vs Light

I used to tell myself there is no difference between walking in the dark and walking in the light. If I wouldn’t be scared in the light, I shouldn’t be scared in the dark. After all, nothing has changed except the light. I revised this theory once upon a time during a late fall camping trip. The moment the lights went out, every kind of rustling, grumbling, clacking, hooting, screeching creature stampeded the perimeter of my campsite. Where once there was a tranquil clearing, the darkness itself morphed into living creatures. It was at that moment I realized there was a difference. Light changes everything.

For one final light reflection scroll down to ZZ.

To wrap up with a New Year’s Adventure, go to NN.

NN. New Year’s Adventures

I climbed into bed well after midnight on New Year’s Day, holding to the time-honored family tradition of welcoming the New Year across as many time zones as possible before wisdom and daylight overtakes us. I read the last devotion in my yearly devotional, and since it was technically January 1 now, I flipped to the front of the book and read that one too. Beginning and ending, alpha and omega – I loved the cyclical feel of it. I

spent most of the forthcoming daylight hours asleep, but there would be another night. Another day. Another adventure. New Year’s is a time for trying something new, giving ourselves fun challenges, or starting over again. I love that there will be another one next year, but that first we get 366 new days, 8784 new hours, 527,040 new moments. We can try again. Choose a different adventure.

Go ahead, choose a different adventure. Follow it through to the end.

Which really, is just the beginning.

YY. Simple Reflection

Reflection is the key word here. I am amazed how little light it takes for the distant eyes to glow softly back. Someplace in the dark I hear the clang of a bell, and I recognize it as the sheep bell attached to the lead ewe’s collar. They are enjoying a nighttime graze in the frosty grass. When they turn their heads, the eyes disappear as though they were never there. A step out of the headlamp beam and they are equally lost to sight. In a moment, it’s impossible to tell if they are still there, watching me, or if I am staring into empty space.

As Edith Wharton wrote in War & Travel: There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it. I guess we could also say the eyes that receive it. Jesus said to place a lamp on a stand so that it gives light to all who enter. We are called to spread His light, but first, we need to receive it. No matter how dark it is, no matter how dark we feel, we can still receive. Like the soft eye of this gentle flock, it takes so very little light to reflect back.

Are you ready for a little more adventure now? Scroll up to DD.

Are you ready to wrap up with that cup of tea? Go to ZZ.

ZZ. Cup of Tea

There’s nothing like a good cup of tea to accompany the telling of a tale. Or, if you’re like me and like the idea of tea far more than the actual taste, any warm beverage of your choice. Let the steam shroud your face as you pause for just a moment and reflect. The New Year is a good time to carve out a little piece of peace. Sip your tea. Breathe deeply. Maybe when you turn just right your eye will catch the spark of a reflection. Light off a spoon, a flash off the tea kettle: A little wink from God. You are never alone. God is in the darkest places right alongside you, and God’s eyes need no source of light to spark.

Receive His light. Carry it with you into the new day.

This little choose your own adventure was first shared at inspireafire.com. Have an adventurous day!

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Meet Janet!

Janet Beagle, PhD is the founder of The Mustard Patch. She divides her time between the Midwest and New England, and if she’s not writing, she’s probably out hiking with her 2-and 4-footed friends.