DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: Walking Forward in Hope

It was a test of longanimity. The light rays and scenic view after the pitch-black caving somehow gave us a feeling of victorious relief. “Free at last”, our smiles could tell.

TOTAL PITCH DARKNESS – that is how I would describe my spelunking experience at Malangaan Cave in Bulacan, Philippines. 

Situated in a vast land of luscious greenery in San Rafael, Bulacan, is a breathtaking view of jagged rock formations and a mysterious cave. It used to be a hideout of Guerilla fighters during World War II, according to the locals. Now it is a go-to place for trekkers who want a different vibe of adventure.

A 2-hour-drive from Manila, it is best to visit this place in the summer where the trails are dry and the sunlight unveils the picturesque landscape and vibrant milieu. Spelunking inside the cave is more challenging during the rainy season since it is watery, muddy, and slippery. 

I have been to this cave twice already, both in dry and wet seasons. Each visit offered a unique experience in terms of trail difficulty and weather conditions. Nonetheless, I intend to go back during the summertime. 

The caving trail during my second visit was a bit challenging. With the total absence of natural light, my friends and I had to grope through a dark and narrow passage for about an hour. There were parts where we had to crawl in the mud, grip onto solid objects while protecting ourselves from bumps, falling rocks, and sharp edges. 

No turning back. There was not a slight chance to escape from the risky obstacles. We had to move forward, squeeze ourselves in the tight spaces, fit ourselves in the tiny holes, and endure until the end. Nevertheless, it was a one-of-a-kind adventure.

The sunlight at the mouth of the cave was the most awaited sight amidst the long, pitch-black spelunking. To feel the warmth of sunlight was to breathe life afresh. Indeed, every ray of light is within reach if we keep moving forward.

Finally, we made it to the end, and there, a breathtaking panoramic view welcomed us. During summer, the white rocks stand uniquely dauntless in her sublimity. The clear, blue sky augments its distinctive charm.

It was a test of longanimity. The light rays and scenic view after the pitch-black caving somehow gave us a feeling of victorious relief. “Free at last”, our smiles could tell. 

Perhaps it was the same wondrous feeling when the blind man encountered Jesus and received sight. 

“What do you want me to do for you?”  “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.  Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  (Luke 18:35-43, NIV) 

Perhaps the feeling was overwhelming when the hope of the paralytic man was restored when Jesus forgave his sins and told him to stand up and walk. 

He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher, and go home.” And immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.  (Luke 5:17-26, NASB) 

Perhaps it was a remarkable moment when Lazarus walked out of the dark tomb. 

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:38-44, NIV)

Perhaps it’s the same language to anyone who experiences hope, renewal, healing, freedom from the pitch darkness of depression, loss, shame, emptiness, and dishonor.

What is your darkest moment in life? Jesus experienced the most excruciating one at the Cross when He cried out to His Abba Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-56, NIV)

And yet that darkest moment in the life of Jesus removed the domain of darkness in mankind so we can share the glorious light with Him. 

This is our hope. There is nothing that is too pitch dark in our lives that Jesus would be able to remove and walk us to a new life. 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12, NIV

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