Daring and Darkness

by Alyssa von Helms

May 19, 2021


Do you ever stand in front of your bathroom sink and peel the contacts from your eyeballs with relief? I’ve done that more times than I can count—most recently, oh, about ten minutes ago. Sometimes it’s because my eyes are dry from a long day of staring at the computer screen.

But sometimes it’s because I’m tired of seeing. Do you ever feel that way? Like you want a break from reality? Let me stand in front of this mirror and take away my ability to see so I don’t have to mentally run after every negative thought that springs up the minute I meet my own eyes in the mirror. Give me relief from the to-return pile in the corner or the paperwork stacked on the table—because without my contacts, they seem distant and fuzzy, not at all the burdening, sharp-edged pressures they morph into when I can see them clearly.

When I do have my contacts in, I’ve been re-reading The Lord of the Rings, a book I loved as a twelve year old but haven’t read in a few years. Like all the best books, it was enjoyable when I read it as a child but it’s so much richer to read as an adult. There is a part near the beginning of the trilogy that has stuck with me in recent days. The Fellowship is being chosen and Elrond has doubts about the suitability of two of the volunteers.

“[You] do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,” he says in answer to Merry and Pippin’s plea to accompany Frodo on his dangerous quest, despite being the youngest and most naïve members of the Fellowship.

Gandalf, the wise wizard, unexpectedly counters, “Neither does Frodo. Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy.”

Every night when I take out my contacts, I think about how similar we are to hobbits, especially those foolish two. How little we can see—or bear to see—the true means that move the world around us, the spiritual forces, the working of God, and how that blindness is for our protection. We like to believe we’re brave warriors, able to look danger in the eye and laugh! But the truth is the fuzziness of seeing through a glass darkly is the only thing that allows us to walk into a fallen world and not collapse when faced with the darkness in it. Not being able to see as clearly as our omniscient God is a blessing: we are not wizards ourselves, only hobbits, small, simple folk who wish to dare but aren’t strong enough to withstand the weight such knowledge would bring.

And on days when I’m feeling particularly hobbit-like, I thank God that He never slumbers nor sleeps and His eyes are always watching when His children admit their own tiredness, put away their need to see, and trust that everything will be as He wills it when they wake up.

Alyssa loves iced coffee in any season and can’t go a day without spending some of it outside. She needs to order more contacts.