Six couples sit in the darkness of the van as it swerves left and right, up and down through the Kentucky countryside approaching Midway where dinner waits at the Holly Hill Inn. Stories pour out of acts of generosity: kids who have chosen brave sacrifice; businessmen and women who expend energy finding ways to give generously. The stories cross the globe. During a pause, someone comments that in this world, where so much is dark, there is still so much beauty.
Dinner behind and the logi of good food making the atmosphere in the van feel meditative and gentle, stories of pain emerge: a child who has died; a suicide; the bombing of community center. A sigh. ‘The world really is a horror,’ someone says.
Here’s the thing – life is 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. The darkness will never totally go away. The darkness will not not disappear no matter what we do. We cannot create the kingdom of God here on earth. But John’s gospel says, “The light shines on the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.”
Part of maturity is realizing that the darkness will always be present in our lives. We are never exempt from pain, and just when we think we have life under control a lightening bolt may hit and shatter our well constructed walls. Darkness comes in many shades, and by several means. We see the darkness, we touch and feel it, we lose our way in it. And candles are lit. We see. We hope. There is darkness and there is light. We live with both.
Richard Rohr says that if our posture with the darkness is to ‘stand angrily, obsessively against it, … we will become mirror images of it.’ A mature posture in life is to be honest in naming the darkness – and liberal in shining the light. Everything is not beautiful. But some things are beautiful. Our job is to shine light, even if we can only manage the tiniest flicker.
Our acts of justice, sacrifices of love, and ministry projects are light in the darkness, a sign of a greater Light remains with us always. And in a mysterious way we will find life’s gifts, which sometimes hide in the darkness. Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”