I have been reading a lot of books recently- children’s and adult fiction books alike. There are those stories that are understandable and even interesting, but I am caught by the adjectives that disrupt the flow but are trying desperately to paint a vivid picture. Contrastingly, there are some books that stick with me and captivate my attention that feel as if I am listening and watching a beautiful story play out before my eyes. I find that in those moments when I am captivated by a book that I am able to think more deeply about life. Maybe it’s the depth of the story or the openness of my heart or the trust in the characters, but whatever it is, it can be life changing.
As I began Book the Second in The Tale of Despereaux, I was sad to be leaving behind the tales of a passionate mouse. However, I was struck with a beautiful picture of the disparity between light and darkness.
John 3:19-20 (ESV)
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
In The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo paints a fascinating picture of two rats, Roscuro and Botticelli, who were both born into darkness and are urged to love the darkness from their very beginnings. Yet Roscuro, which is short for Chiaroscuro (meaning “the arrangement of light and dark, darkness and light together” p.85), is enraptured by the hope and meaning that light brings. Botticelli, illustrative of the tempter, seeks to convince Roscuro that darkness has worth and meaning— “The meaning of life is suffering, specifically the suffering of others. Prisoners, for instance. Reducing a prisoner to weeping and wailing and begging is a delightful way to invest your existence in meaning.” (pg. 88)
Roscuro believes the lie of darkness and asks for the next prisoner. He is given his first prisoner to torture but not before he sees a glimmer of afternoon sunlight streaming down into the dungeon. He is captivated once again. Even so the lies of darkness quickly overtake him—“’Listen,’ said Botticelli, ‘this is what you should do: Go and torture the prisoner. Go and take the red cloth from him. The cloth will satisfy your cravings for something from that world. But do not go up into the light. You will regret it. You do not belong in that world. You are a rat. A rat. Say it with me.’” (pg. 96)
As I sit here thinking about New Years resolutions and moving forward in 2014, I am caught by the questions— In what areas in my life am I believing that the darkness is better than the light? Am I living like the true light has come? Do my words, thoughts, and deeds clearly show that it is God in me? Ponder this with me.
“What a disappointment it was! Looking at it, Roscuro knew that Botticelli was wrong. What Roscuro wanted, what he needed, was not the cloth, but the light that had shone behind it. He wanted to be filled, flooded, blinded again with light.” (pg. 102)
In all respects I want to choose the light over the darkness.