Lazarus Quenby, bored with the reasonable and respectable conversation at dinner, discreetly glanced at his pocket watch at the very moment the dinner party at Waddesford Manor came to an unexpected end. The ninth-century floor support beam gave way, plunging the dinner party deep into the caverns beneath the manor. There, buried beneath the rubble and Tudor-style furniture, six people found themselves under the banquet table which had served twelve generations of Waddesfords by holding their dinner. The table’s last service to the family was to hold the debris at bay while the six dinners scrambled toward the cavern and took inventory of their injuries and each other.
“Is everyone all right?”
“Charles? Is that you? I’m well, my dear,” answered Victoria. “But I seem to have someone’s limb in my face.”
“That would be me, Vickie.”
“Good God, David!” barked Sir Charles Waddesford, who always felt the need to take charge. “Remove your limb from my wife at once.”
“Yes, thank you, Charles. I’m all right.” said David, “What of Eleanore, Mary and Lazarus?”
“We are fine,” said Lazarus. “Eleanore, Mary and I are over here--and we’ve accounted for our limbs as well.”
Beneath the Manor were ancient caverns discovered when builders laid foundations for the main hall at Waddesford ten centuries before. They very reasonably sank foundations into the bedrock forty feet below. They failed to reason that both the cavern and the Manor were living things in their own right, and that a thousand years of even the subtlest movements would cause the disruption of soups served a millennium hence.
Perhaps more distressing than the interruption of the meal was the darkness of their present situation: the six diners were unharmed but found themselves accosted by deep darkness. Not the kind of darkness to which one could become accustomed after a few moments. Pitch darkness, the sort of which one could not see a hand six inches in front of one’s face. The kind of darkness that removes all other sense of place and time: there remains only a dread blackness.
“Everyone remain calm,” ordered Sir Charles, though no one had shown the slightest inclination toward panic. “Surely six reasonable adults can find our way back up to the Manor.”
“Reason’s not the thing, Charlie,” said Lazarus. “What we need is a damned bit of light.”
Lazarus Quenby was correct. If they were ever to get back to soups and finally see the main course, the dinner party needed light, not reason. Their greatest need was to have their situation illuminated, so they could make wise decisions based upon what they saw . . .
From the distress of our aristocratic friends we can learn the difference between reason and revelation, which are in no way opposed to one another.
Reason is what we use once we seen things for what they are; revelation enables us to see what we would not be able to see otherwise. A little bit of light goes a long way. Forever, in fact. Perhaps light comes first in the order of creation because it is of first importance.
Some people suppose that revelation and faith are the same thing. Hardly. The Biblical notion of faith springs from trust. Revelation is to see things at last as they really are--with a clarity so vivid that trust is no longer an issue. When the two met on the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul did not need faith to know that Jesus was real. Jesus settled the question of his resurrected reality with a blinding light. Paul did require, however, faith to trust in the goodness and kindness of Jesus.
To those living in darkness--including many who claim to have faith in Christ--the in breaking of light reveals powerfully the need to change course, to re-prioritize, or to re-order our lives around what is clearly true.
The light is not always convenient to those who have learned to navigate the shadowlands of self-sufficiency. The light is seldom welcomed amidst religious tradition because they believe they have ordered their world properly, and so have been unable to see the changes in the new landscape. The light always presents a challenge to those trust in their own intelligence. Not because their intelligence is invalid but because in the darkness they have launched out in the wrong direction, and if you’re lost no amount of reason can show you the right path.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen,” said C.S. Lewis. “Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” That’s why Christianity begins with revelation. After we see things clearly God encourages us to use the rational mind to order our affairs in light of his revelation.
“How will we find our way out?” asked Victoria.
“It only stands to reason we should feel our way along, and follow any path that leads upward,” commanded Charles.
Just then Lazarus remembered the penlight attached to his key chain. Its dim beam was bright enough to cause the party to blink and shield their eyes.
“There appears to be something of a worn path in this direction,” he observed. “but it leads slightly down.” Charles remained adamant: the smart way out was up. He didn’t need the light to work his way back to the Manor. He turned and felt his way along the walls.
The rest of the dinner party quickly decided to follow Lazarus Quenby, who discovered a path that lead down and out to the place where a subterranean stream broke into an open field.
Even though the survivors sent search parties back underground, Sir Charles was never heard from again. Quenby married the widow Victoria and inherited the estate.