At an online conference the other day we were told about a picture shared by a friend and colleague of ours. She had been praying at the start of the pandemic and had been given a picture of it as a tunnel through which she was travelling. When she came out the other side everything was different and everyone spoke a different language, so that she needed to ask God what He was trying to teach her.
It’s a good question and one with which we identified, as this particular picture had resonance with us. We were reminded of our journeys through the Channel Tunnel on Le Shuttle where we stayed in our car for the entire journey, which takes about 25 minutes. There were no windows to look through, and we were entirely in the hands of the driver, who was the only person who knew how fast the train was going, and the direction of travel. There was some light in the body of the train, and it was a very comfortable and speedy experience, but in terms of trying to figure out where we were and how many miles had passed, we were completely in the dark. Not until the train slowed down and finally stopped, and the doors were opened, could we take the initiative again and find our way out of Calais and into France.
The image shared at the conference was therefore pertinent for many reasons. The tunnel was necessary as it was the quickest and easiest way to take our car onto the continent, but it still plunged us beneath the seabed, and turned out the lights. We could trust the driver of the train, but they did not feel particularly present, and when we arrived there was a steep learning curve to negotiate, as the familiar British road signs were exchanged for European ones, and we had to remember to drive on the right. Added to this, our French was decidedly rusty so we had to hope that we would meet people who understood us and with whom we could communicate easily if we were to stay safe and get the most out of the experience.
How many of us feel that this is what is happening in our lives at the moment? The end of the tunnel is still just a distant light and we know we need help to reach it safely and to negotiate the landscape when we get there. That might be disconcerting but it’s worth bearing in mind that it will be worth the effort. We drove all the way through Luxembourg, Germany and Austria and over the Alps to Italy, then home again via Switzerland and France before once again travelling through the Channel Tunnel, and although there were difficult and challenging times to negotiate along the way, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of our lives.
We might be in a tunnel now but it is a means to an end and the destination will be worth the effort. And unlike on our physical adventure, the driver through the tunnel stays with us on every subsequent journey and experience, setting the pace, guiding us through and aiming for the light.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline