Darkness Will Not Overcome The Light - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Darkness Will Not Overcome The Light

November 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Darkness Will Not Overcome The Light

By Lynne Hartke

Guest Writer

A 16-inch lizard is normally hard to miss, but I do not see its full length at first, just a nose peeking out from behind a large boulder on the downward slope of a sandstone butte.

“I think it’s a chuckwalla,” I say to my husband Kevin, who is snapping photos of the attention-grabbing, panoramic view of Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, Tower Butte and the distant, snow-capped Navajo Mountain.

Kevin steps closer and the lizard darts back into the shadows, tucking tightly into a crevice.

We haven’t come looking for lizards, but rather, the Hanging Gardens at a seep spring, a tiny oasis in the endless Navajo Jurassic sandstone near Page, Arizona.

Although surrounded by incredible beauty, my mind focuses on the previous three days that I spent with women from our church at an annual ladies’ retreat, sharing our faith, our stories and our lives.

During an afternoon of recreation, three friends decided to ride a giant swing, a device attached to thirty-five-foot-high poles. The trio included a woman with multiple sclerosis, a woman undergoing chemo for ovarian cancer and another awaiting biopsy results.

“We are going first,” they declared, these women in hard, desert places.

“I think the chuckwalla is coming out.” My husband’s words jolt me to the present, where, two feet to my left, the lizard edges out of its rock sanctuary. With its subdued gray and tan coloring, I surmise the chuckwalla is a female.

Inch by inch, the chuckwalla adventures out, nose first, followed by a neck and shoulders covered in baggy skin. Kevin taps two small stones together and the curious lizard creeps a few more steps until her entire eight-inch body and matching eight-inch banded tail are exposed.

When threatened, the lizard can wedge itself into a tight crack in the rocks, even inflating its body by gulping air, making it nearly impossible to extract. The lizard also needs an internal body temperature of 100-102 degrees before feeding on seeds, vegetation and flowers.

A body capable of hiding. An inner core created for sunlight.

Not much different than my three friends.

After helmets were donned and harnesses snapped in place, the trio sat suspended, waiting for the swing to be pulled back and released. I thought of the circumstances they had overcome to attend, the dark places they had faced. I knew it would have been easy to stay in the shadows, slipping deeper into impenetrable cracks.

Hiding or light? Safety or risk? Aren’t these the questions we all debate?

The camp’s activity director gave one last tug on the rope before releasing my friends. With a unified shout, the women soared into the sunlight.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 ESV

-Lynne Hartke is the author of Under a Desert Sky and blogs at lynnehartke.com. She is the wife of Mayor-elect Kevin Hartke.