Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 7: Light

Today is Day 7 of my commitment to post daily for seven days. I must confess that I feel a bit anxious, strange as that may seem. Part of me is wondering: can I do this one more time?

When I started out on this venture, I hadn't fully realized how hard it was going to be to make such a commitment. It has been, for me, much more than a simple promise to do something that I could then carry out. It has been an act of trust that has stretched me considerably. (Being stretched is not all bad, of course, but it is not always comfortable.)

I have been stretched into trusting because, quite truly, each evening when I have sat down at my computer, I have had no idea what I was going to write. I had a word and an image but nothing more. I had to trust that something would be given to me to write - for I cannot do this alone. (I actually cannot do much of anything alone but here, having committed myself, I can really feel it.)

Despite my proclamations of faith, there are many questions lurking in the shadows as I write. What if nothing comes? What if God decides to leave me on my own this time and nothing sensible comes to mind? And more deeply, what if God does not show up and I am left alone in darkness?

This last question, of course, is about much more than just whether or not something worthwhile shows up on my blog. It is about the bigger commitment of relying on the Holy One to guide my every word and action, to be with me in all that I do. I cannot surrender to Him half-way - for that would be no surrender at all and would be a lukewarm love at best. I want to make the full surrender, but I am afraid.

Our world is so full of darkness. I have gotten so that I skip over many of the newspaper articles that report how many people were killed by the latest suicide bomber in the Middle East. Reading daily about the bodies found on my own city streets is almost too much to bear. Beyond the current news reports, humanity's history implants in each of us unwanted remembrances of wars, genocides and unspeakable tragedies. Will it never end?

In a world so full of darkness, it is hard to commit oneself to the Light. While the Christ tells us, "...take courage, I have conquered the world" (John 16:33), looking around me, reading the news, the world does not appear to be conquered. I see darkness. And not only do I see darkness around me; sometimes I also see darkness within me.

I want to believe in the Light but I am afraid.

Some reading this might be surprised. "You? Afraid? I never though you doubted or that you were afraid." It is indeed true and it could not be otherwise. It is one of the most challenging parts of being human: the uncertainty, the not-knowing what is real and true. Even Jesus, the human being, was afraid when He made His surrender.

Hence, it is not wrong to doubt or be afraid. It is, in fact, quite normal. But "normal" does not make it easy nor does it tell us what to do next.

Were it not for the Christ, we would have no idea what to do next. As I reflected on this tonight and gazed upon the image above, a poem was born in me. I share it with you now, as this seven day series draws to a close, in a spirit of hope for all that is yet to come:

my soul,  hard and green,
awaits its reckoning day,
hanging on a tree.

encased in its rind of fear,
it sees nothing but darkness,
not even the promise
of  the tiny seeds
buried within its heart.

“i am alone,” it sobs,
“why have you abandoned me?”
it cries to the heavens.
“are there only storms
and nothing more?”

and then it prays.

“ O holy One,
be with me.
may your Light
ripen my soul,
softening it
with the warmth
of your unseen
make of me
sweet food
to strengthen
the  lost and hungry.
take every bit of me
and feed me
to the earth.
make of my seeds
new life
and lasting hope
until your Light
quenches all darkness
and together
we live forever
in You.


[Note: The seven words that have been the backbone of the series have been central to my life for some time now. I was first called to listen for them as part of an online retreat and later they became my "holy pauses", moments of prayer throughout the day and night - when I remember to pause, of course... :-)]

(You are invited to share your reflections, images or poetry relating to this series, as instructed here.)