In the midst of darkness, it is hard to imagine light. There are two possible reasons why we cannot see, either we are in the dark, or we are blind. Metaphorically speaking, blindness comes from our inability to see our own faults combined with our own deep willingness to be blind to what is around us while choosing to blame others. Darkness, on the other hand, does not come from such a basis.
We have a choice I think, to choose light over darkness. By that I mean choosing self-reflection and openness to God, the humanity of others and the beauty of creation over the desire for things, and ‘power over’ things and other people that keep us blind. The easiness of blaming others or our circumstances, the opportunity to fill our lives with greedy acquisition and consumption, totally enslaved by our choices and our desires, any distraction and action rather than learning to choose light and sight such that it becomes habitual, ingrained and normal. It is so normal that people who choose light and sight become counter-cultural and are feared because they challenge the status quo.
I’ve been reflecting on this choice during the last few days of Christmas and as I look forward to the New Year, because I have been re-reading the beautiful words at the start of John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
I think it is helpful to remember God came into darkness, Wisdom’s power and creativity became being with the Word, and the Word became Jesus, a man who chose light and sight. His love for humanity, all humanity, led him to the human-created cross and to experience humanity’s death, so we might finally, truly believe in his unlimited love and have our hope for the future rekindled.
In our world today, there is great uncertainty. I look at the 24 hour news reports, at the twitter-feed and other social media reporting, the overwhelming unkindness of our communications, the malevolence of our intentions, the vindictiveness of our persistent demands for retribution, punishment even to death, including our physical, emotional and spiritual deaths.
Our leaders repeatedly fall short of our hopes and expectations. Their decisions often shame us and their fear and desire for power is constantly fed by their blindness. We become stuck in ‘winners and losers’ stories, those who have and those who have not, continuously blinded by those who feed off fear and hatred, who choose power over others through violence and death. We become immobilised, paralysed and fearful of doing anything that might make our lives more uncertain, more risky or more vulnerable.
This is no way to live. Remember, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
However, we need to practice and learn to desire light and sight rather than choosing blindness and selfishness because those around us do likewise.
It is such a joy and gift to realise instead the true worth of people and things of God’s creation, rather than judging them merely by how they affect us on a natural level and how useful they can be to us as objects and commodities.
It is also important not to confuse things of the senses, our desires and beautiful feelings with God. As we work through this difference and start to focus on God alone, then the caverns of blindness and darkness within us will truly start to give light and sight. The caverns of the soul, memory, intellect and will are like lamps lit by God, and they will give out light and sight as we are transformed by our choice. By living through the darkness, we will see the light.
As we look forward to 2019, hope is alive and well in the miracle of God’s creation, God’s love and God’s presence, contrary to all the human evidence. Let us move into the marvellous light and not choose blindness or limit our options for the future to what is offered by other people.
Reference: Obbard, E.R., 2007. John of the Cross Living Flame of Love. New City Press Hyde Park NY