Hope Rises as Darkness Falls

One day not long ago, I was walking along a well-kept cobblestone street in the medieval German town of Münstereifel. I was making my way to a friend's apartment.

It was a glorious day, one that almost seemed taken from a stor ybook illustration. The bright noon sun pouring forth from the heavens reflected on the brook that crossed through town. The water in the fountains of the town square sparkled in the sun's radiance.

Along the way, I happened to pass a bookstore. The title of a thick, blue book in the window caught my eye: The Darkness is Rising. Somehow, that title didn't seem to go with the romantic setting of the town, and it clung to my thoughts as I strolled along. Can darkness rise, I wondered? I had heard of darkness setting in or closing in or even falling, but never of darkness going up. The sun rises, the tide rises, and even hot air rises. But can darkness rise, too? Puzzled, I kept going over the problem in my head.

Suddenly, the blare of a car horn startled me. “Aufpassen, what are you doing in the middle of the road?” snapped a stout man in a Volkswagen. The object of his ire was an elderly gentleman hobbling across the street with a cane.

A block further on, I passed some newspaper stands on the street corner. The headlines were not encouraging: “General Holds Fraudulent Elections; 100 Dead After First Protests.” “Terror Strikes Baghdad — Again.” “Kidnappers Demand $10 Million for Release of Hostages.”

As I approached an appliance store, I saw that a popular comedy was running on a dozen TV sets. At last, something to lighten my spirits, I thought. Alas, the show was interrupted by a news flash showing scenes of death and destruction in the Middle East.

Maybe darkness can rise, I thought. In fact, I noticed some clouds had begun moving in.

Minutes later, I glanced across the street and noticed two children stepping outside a shop. Each was absorbed in a double-scoop ice cream cone, and both looked quietly elated over the simple treat. Just then, the smaller of the two, who couldn't have been more than 4, tripped on the curb. He tried to regain his balance, but both scoops plopped off his cone and disappeared down a storm drain. He began to wail.

With that, I became convinced that some kind of darkness had indeed ascended to over whelm this town on this day. I was about to let out an exasperated sigh when, just like that, the cr ying stopped. I looked again at the two boys and saw that the older of the two had just handed his cone to the grieving youngster. Right at that moment, the sun peaked out from around the tip of the cloud that had moved in front of it.

As I strolled toward my destination, my whole attitude began to change. I was aware of an unexplainable joy and peace filling my heart. One boy's simple act of charity toward his cr ying brother had reminded me of another act of love that dispelled an even greater darkness long ago. That love was so power ful that it endured the cross and overcame the tomb. His light had found its way into the darkness of my soul through the kindness of a child. Hope was indeed rising.

Legionar y of Christ Father John Doyle writes from Colfax, California.