What do we do with the bad stuff? What do we do with the moments where we fail, make bad choices, hurt those we love, act on our selfishness and hatred, are abused and used up, feel the full force of someone else's bad choices?
What do we do with violence and war and tension and poverty and hopelessness? What do we do with political manipulation and social injustice?
What do we do with all the darkness?
No amount of wishing it wasn’t there or pretending that it isn’t will remove it from our lives/world. No special prayer will obliterate it. We cannot (yet) go back in time to re-live the moments we lived-wrong and make them right.
We must learn to sit with the darkness, and somehow make peace with it.
“Oh Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.” David, 2 Samuel 22:29 (NLT).
When darkness comes, we generally respond one of two ways: fight or flight. Aggression, anger, uproar. Hide, avoid, ignore.
But there is a third way…
“Once we can stand in that third spacious way, neither directly fighting nor denying and fleeing, we are in the place of grace out of which genuine newness can come. This is where creativity and new forms of life and healing emerge.”
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“We stand in the middle, neither taking the world on from another power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. We hold the dark side of reality and the pain of the world until it transforms us, knowing that we are both complicit in the evil and can participate in wholeness and holiness. Once we can stand in that third spacious way, neither directly fighting nor denying and fleeing, we are in the place of grace out of which genuine newness can come. This is where creativity and new forms of life and healing emerge.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations.
I’m trying to say something along the lines of this:
“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” Sarah Williams, Twilight Hours.
I don’t love darkness, but I do love the light that shines in it. It’s often the edge-of-life stuff that reveals the ‘stars’ in our lives (sorry for the corny analogy). It's in this place that I think we find grace to move forward.
David didn’t write, “The Lord lights up THE darkness.” He owned it: “The Lord lights up MY darkness.” He was trying to hold the tension between the two. I think if we could learn to do that, we wouldn't fear the dark so much. We wouldn’t try and fight and destroy the darkness which in doing so would eventually destroy others and ourselves, and we wouldn’t ignore it either.
When we lose our fear of the dark, we'll find the stars and chart our way toward the sunrise.
Written by Liz Milani