Lead, Kindly Light

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Sometimes we walk in darkness, unable to see the way ahead. In such times, we usually take small steps, one at a time, one after another, hoping we will again find the light. Darkness can be frightening, causing us to despair, causing us to doubt the future.

I have always been a student of hymns, knowing that the words and music of hymns bring me deep comfort. A comforting hymn that speaks to a dark time in life is “Lead, Kindly Light.”

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

So many hymns have their stories of giving strength, and “Lead, Kindly Light” has many of them. One is about the largest mining disaster in the Durham coalfield in England in 1909, when 168 men and boys lost their lives as the result of two underground explosions. Incredibly, there were still men alive underground. A group of 34 men and boys had found a pocket of clean air. They sat in almost total darkness, when one of them began humming the hymn “Lead Kindly Light.” In no time at all. the rest of the miners joined in the singing . . .

“Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on, The night is dark, and I am far away from home. . .”

After fourteen hours, thirty men were rescued.

Our stories do not always have happy endings. At times, the darkness continues longer than we can bear it. But in those times, we can still take one step at a time until the light comes again. We can take each step in hope and in the confidence that we will again walk in the light. We can count on it!

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