D is for Darkness


 

New weekly musings inspired by the alphabet: 

Darkness is as much a part of our human existence as light is. 
Darkness is as much a part of our Christian faith as light is. 
The bad and the good, 
the sorrow and the joy, 
the suffering and the healing, 
the violence and the peace. 

In fact, we cannot know what light is or appreciate its healing power – 
unless we experience darkness. 

Out of the darkness – 
of suffering and death, of denial and a-morality, of power and politics – 
shines a light no one expected.

A person 
who stands up for what is right, 
who calls on those with power and influence and money 
to do the right thing. 

We talk about the “upside down gospel” of Jesus because he came to change us. 
Not just our minds, not just our hearts but our entire EXISTENCE. 
Transform us, our lives, our world
with a new way, a new truth and a new life. 

And change often means
facing what is broken,
what is buried,
what is hidden. 
It means going into the deep, deep darkness
to discover what is true and real.

We don’t like to think about that, do we? 
We like things just the way they are, comfortable and familiar.
We like our candles burning and our stars shining. 
We recoil from losing the light, 
from feeling the darkness closing in on us, 
from having to face the dark,
having to face what is bleak and empty. 

We don’t want to go INTO the darkness but AROUND it. 
We try to avoid it. 
But this is our faith – 
this “going into the darkness” in order to experience the power of the light.

Because darkness is not bleak nor it is empty.
It is full of meaning and potential. 

Just think about human birth – 
we spend nine months incubating, growing and expanding in the dark – 
and then we are born – 
rather violently – 
into the light. 

Now think about human death – 
it’s a passing into light. 

We work so hard to avoid darkness, to ignore death – 
yet they are the unequivocal realities of human existence. 

As a culture, we have become reluctant to die to an old way and be reborn into a new way.
We resist the changes that can bring about a better life, for ourselves and for others. 
For one thing, we hate to admit we’re doing something wrong. 
For another, we don’t want to do the hard work, 
or experience suffering of any kind.

American author Barbara Brown Taylor believes 
we have created a “spiritual bypass” for suffering. 
We want to avoid pain, explain away pain, 
overtalk pain in an effort to make everyone “feel better”. 

Yet,
IS THERE ONE PERSON HERE WHO HAS NOT SUFFERED? 
Who has not experienced a dark night of the soul?  
Can you think of anyone who has never experienced pain of some kind?

Exactly. It’s part of our human existence. 
Suffering. Pain. Loss. Grief.  
All of it is unavoidable. 
Yet we believe we can bypass anything that is hard, anything that hurts. 

When you’re in the middle of the darkness – 
the suffering and the pain – 
breathe.
Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly.
Let it in. Let it go.

Because what gets us through the darkness is our faith: 
That no matter how dark it gets – 
there will be light again. 

Back to Barbara Brown Taylor and facing the darkness: 
“The loss of a parent, the rupturing of families, the witness of terrible tragedy... I think, if we can hang on to each other as we walk into the darkness, into the suffering, if I can’t testify to the light around us, there will be someone else who can.”

Suffering and death, darkness and confusion – but also light and each other. 
We walk into and through the darkness – 
and we are not alone. 

When we are stumbling around in the dark unable to see, 
that’s when we find our deepest courage, 
that’s when we find others – 
we help them, they help us, 
we are each other’s eyes and ears and hands,
and we walk through the darkness together. 

We want to believe that our faith will take away the pain and discomfort 
but what it ends up showing us is how to sit together 
in the suffering.
It shows us how to see the meaning and potential
in the suffering.

The darkness is not about being lost – it’s about being found. 
And healed.
By each other.
By love. 


~ SJ 


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