“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Anne Frank, evil-defying firebrand
I can operate a dark room. At least one dedicated to black-and-white film.
This skill was foisted upon me early in my journalistic career, when I was working for a chain of weekly newspapers in the Chicago suburbs. Writing assignments were generally limited to the ones no one with more status wanted. And, in those pre-digital days, there was an abundance of film to be developed and too few real photographers on the payroll.
One afternoon every week, I spent several hours rolling cartridges of fresh film, processing film I and other reporters had already shot, and making prints.
Foisted, yes. But, I grew to like the work, especially after I learned how to operate with my eyes closed. Why the closed eyes? It had to do with the part of dark room work that literally requires cave-like blackness — not the dim, colored lights seen on movies and TV shows.
The trickiest part of this work, at least for me, was taking shot film out of its canister and feeding it onto reels designed to allow the free flow of developing chemicals. It was difficult enough in full light, which is the only way you can learn how to do it, of course. In complete darkness, it seemed impossible.
My eyes kept trying to help even though they could not. At some point, I learned to simply close my eyes and let my hands do what they knew how to do.
This memory came to me recently when I read yet another news report of sin’s fallout. I am still a journalist. I cannot help but keep track of what is happening, both around me and around the world. I am also a Christian. I cannot help but be aware of, well, where this will take us.
At times, all this awareness leaves me as paralyzed as I was in the darkness of the photo lab. My eyes darting everywhere — terribly, terribly aware — but unable to help. My hands still.
It’s clearly a time, once more, to operate with eyes shut. By the grace of God, my hands — and heart — will know what to do.