There's A Light
There's a lamp in my bedroom that has a faintly illuminated "on" switch that can't be seen in the light of day. But when the room is in darkness, what was a faint light by day, creates a glow that bathes an entire wall.
I've read that one of the many factors that need to be considered for a good night's sleep is the absence of artificial light like my lamp. Apparently, even if you are asleep, your body "knows" that there's light shining, and won't fully slip into deep rest.
This got me thinking about light and darkness, and how we perceive both in the world around us.
Fr. Richard Rohr has written extensively about the fact that even when we are peering into what appears to us to be total darkness, it isn't.
You see, all around us in the darkness, there are subatomic particles known as neutrinos that are zipping about---by-products of atomic reactions, traveling at near light speed.
And these neutrinos emit light that we can't perceive with the naked eye---but it is there nonetheless, and at some level, we know this, even if we can't "see" it.
I read this amazing quote from Anthony de Mello the other day, and I had to write it down. He was reflecting on John 1 where the Gospel writer wrote about the coming of Jesus, whom he called "The Word."
This passage speaks of the nearness of God to us through the incarnation of the eternal, universal Christ in Jesus of Nazareth. According to John's Gospel, the Christ (the second "person" of the Trinity, the Messiah), is the very blueprint that exists within every aspect of Creation.
The author of John's Gospel states that "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome the light." I have always loved that passage, but it takes on new meaning when you read de Mello's quote:
Look steadily at the darkness. It won’t be long before you see the light. Gaze at things. It won’t be long before you see the Word.
In other words, no matter how dark you think it is---there is light shining. No matter how much you think the darkness is winning---the light of Christ is dispelling it even if you can't perceive it.
No matter how far away God might feel in your moments of despair, God "in Christ" is close. And sometimes, it's hard to truly see the things that are the closest to you... especially if you feel like you can't see the light.
The German poet and philosopher Friedrich Holderlin once wrote that God is difficult to grasp not because God is so distant from us human beings, but rather because God is near.
So what do we do with this? There's a simple response, but the actual answer is much more challenging to hold on to.
First, we need to be willing to look "steadily" into the darkness, which means that we can't be afraid to gaze upon the uncertainty, pain, and emptiness that might surround us.
Ignoring it isn't helpful. Running away from it isn't either. Denying it is even worse. We see this happening right now in the highest levels of our government, in churches and throughout our society. We need to have the courage to face the darkness.
It won't be long then before we begin to see signs of light. It can't be kept from us forever if we are willing and patient to wait for it. Christ is there in the darkness shining the light of love constantly, fervently, eternally.
We can take comfort in knowing that the darkness doesn't get to win. It can't overcome the light no matter what we think we see.
May this bring you hope and peace. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.