Lost in the Garage

When was the last time you were lost?

What did it feel like to be lost?

I got lost at home. Yes…at home.  Here’s how it happened.

The washing machine and dryer are located in the garage.  The garage is connected to our house but there is no entrance to it from within the house. To access it we exit the kitchen door at the back of our house, walk down the steps of our porch, turn left and walk to the end of the house (which is the end of the garage) and enter by the door there.

The ONLY light switch in the garage is on the wall the garage shares with the kitchen. That means…when I enter the garage, I walk into a dark room lit only by dim light that slips in through the closed blind on the one window at the far side of the garage. To turn the light on, I have to make my way through the garage, down a narrow path that’s created between and around “stuff.”

Finding the light switch is not a problem during daylight hours. And, certainly no problem if the weather permits the door to remain open and sunlight to flood the dark interior of the garage.

Night, however, can prove to be challenging unless the door is left open.  Street lights and reflected light (cities are surprisingly well lit even at night) shine into the garage door enough to provide a shadowy image that provides direction and location as I grope my way toward the light switch.

But, close that door behind me upon entrance and I find myself suddenly surrounded by deep, thick, darkness.

Such was the case when I dashed to the garage late evening to gather the last load of laundry from the dryer.  It was mid 20’s outside and barely above freezing in the garage. Each time I’d entered the garage that day I’d pulled the door closed behind me to keep out the chill wind.

Without thinking, I did so that evening. The garage light was on and I could see clearly how to navigate the potential obstacles that lined the path from door to washing machine.

After gathering the clothes from the dryer, I moved to the light switch, turned around and got my bearings, focused mind and direction on where the door was and how I needed to walk in order to circumvent the things in my path…then I turned back around and turned off the light switch beside the washing machine.

Darkness enveloped me.

I could see nothing.

I turned slowly in the direction my mind and body knew from habit would lead me out and reoriented myself fully in what I believed was the direction of the door.

The garage was totally dark. I’d not expected that. I’d forgotten that I’d closed the door tightly. There was no glow of street lights illuminating the outline of the door like there is when it’s left open an inch or two.

I felt dizzy and disoriented.

Where was the door?

And, why weren’t my eyes adjusting to the darkness?

I waited for my eyes to adjust…for the appearance of the slimmest, slightest glow of light that would indicate the position and location of the door.

HA! In pitch black darkness there’s nothing to see but…darkness.  There are no varying shades of black…no shadows…nothing. It’s all black…deep, dark nothingness.

Nothing.

With my load of laundry hugged to me in my left arm, my cell phone in the house, and a double insulated wall between me and my family…I did the only thing I could do. I headed in the direction my mind said the door was and reached out with my right hand, groping…searching.

My feet walked slowly, searching for the path I knew existed.

All went well until I bumped up against something cold.  I ran my hand up and down it.  Metal.  What was it?  I determined it was the stacked lateral files that stood just right of the door.

I moved slightly left and found the bag of newspapers I’d placed “behind” the door earlier in the day.

I moved farther left and smacked into something else that was cold.  I ran my hand over it and couldn’t tell what it was.  It felt like a wall, but there should have been no wall there.  I felt around to the left and right of me and felt nothing.

Still I saw no light – none  – notta.

I panicked.

LOST! I was lost in pitch black darkness – in my own garage!  I slowed my mind and squelched the panic that continued to rise in me.

The more I moved around the more lost I became.

With hand outstretched, I felt once again for the wall and found it slightly right of me, just inches from my face.

The wall had to be the door.  But, where was the doorknob?  Memory told me it should be just below waist level and to my left.  I felt along and finally my hand grasped the cold, damp knob.

With relief I pulled open the door.

Amazement filled me as I saw how brightly lit it was outside even though darkness had fallen hours ago.

Clutching my laundry close, I hurried across the yard and into the kitchen door.

Safe…I was safely home…no longer lost in the pitch black garage or blinded by darkness.

It’s unnerving to be lost at home, in familiar surroundings – to be disoriented and blind in the one place you should be most at home, most comfortable, most assured of having a place and being secure in it.

Home should not be a fearful or fear-filled place.  Dark rooms and blind encounters should not happen at home. “Lost” should not describe how one feels at home.

But, all too often, in homes where love does not light the way, darkness rules. Where there should be acceptance, mercy, grace, and security there is found only judge, jury, sentence, and executioner.

Is it any wonder we see so much hurt, anger, depression?

Look around you. Children are groping for a way out of the darkness in which they live. Battered women seek an exit but find only a wall. Defeated men seek light and a way through the despair.

Look beside you. Who within your reach feels lost at home? Why?

Look within you. Are you lost, groping about, trying to find the way through the darkness?

There is help. There is hope. There is a way out of the darkness.

It beings with a step in the right direction.

See the darkness. Acknowledge and address it. Speak the truth and shed light on it. Get help. Tell someone – and keep on telling until you find someone who can turn on the light, show you the path, direct you to the door.

You’re not alone and you’re not isolated unless you choose to be. Don’t be silent. Don’t be afraid. Be wise. Speak up. Speak out. Get help.

Perhaps you are the one who can take someone’s hand and lead them through the darkness…light the path…open the door…show the way….

Do what you can…when you can…with what you have….

Lost is the worst feeling in the world.

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