The Grace of Dark


Romans 7: 14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.  I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 

I have a never-ending fascination with light.  All it takes is one tiny splash of sunlight on something and I can’t stop staring at it.  If I have my camera handy, time ceases to exist as I capture whatever is being graced by the light for as long as the moment will allow.  I especially love it when I encounter a single leaf in the woods touched by a tiny ray of sunlight – I’ll often wonder, now why did that leaf get picked out of all the other leaves?

But – and this is interesting – I am only spellbound by light that is illuminating something that would otherwise be dark.  I am not in love with light for the sake of light, and more light is never better.  A sunny day can be made up of a lot of harsh glare, and in that case the light loses a significant part of its appeal.  So what this tells me is that the best light is light that is defined by darkness, and when shadow and light work together, that is the sweet spot.

We struggle to do better, and to be better people.  Yet sometimes we go dark.  Sometimes we go really, really dark; and it’s scary and perplexing.  We don’t want to do the things we’re doing, but we seem powerless to stop.  We spiral out of control, and like Paul we question, why is this happening?

For me it’s helpful to think of that single leaf in the woods receiving its very own ray of sunshine.  We don’t know why everything goes dark around us sometimes, but I do know that catching a ray of light is about the most grace-filled thing that can happen; and after all is said and done, the confusion of the darkness is worth the grace of the light.


The People Have Spoken


Last night, or rather early this morning, I, along with the rest of the nation, watched in stunned disbelief as a candidate who is completely unqualified to lead this country rose to the top and “trumped” everything I thought to be sacred and pure in life.  His platform was built upon hatred, fear, and mistrust – emotions that he had spent the better part of a year whipping into a frenzy; and somehow, against all odds, those emotions took over a solid majority of good decent people, and carried him right into the presidency of the United States.

Today, despite my determination not to, I have been lurking on social media – listening in on the pain and lament going on all across the world.  How could this have happened?  Who in their right mind could possibly vote for this douchebag?  All that pain and grief being expressed?  No one I know voted for him – did they?

Well actually I do know a lot of people who voted for him.  Family, friends, acquaintances – good decent hardworking people who generally don’t feel themselves being heard or counted.  Simple people that are not taken seriously because they chose work over education.  People who are shamed and condescended to by the more eloquently spoken.  People who grow, transport, produce, prepare and serve our food; people who build our homes and highways; people who dig coal out of the ground so that we have energy; people who are afraid for the future because what they have to offer is being outsourced to other countries who will do it cheaper and more efficiently.  I have heard it said by many that this is a battle between good and evil, but I don’t think that’s true.  I think it was a battle between the heard and the unheard, and evil found a way to capitalize on that.

So now Americans are squared off against each other while the vulnerable and the marginalized sit on the sidelines waiting to see how it all plays out.  So many people are deeply afraid right now – and rightly so.  Our president elect has openly fanned the flames of racial hatred and then declared open season on racial minorities, women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ folks and anyone who stands up for them.  Our president elect has endorsed misogyny, bigotry, bullying and a whole slew of phobias that spell the exclusion of all but the whitest and the brightest.  He has manipulated the passions of white Americans by convincing them that the only way to Make America Great Again is to Make America White Again.

How will it play out?  No one knows because no one saw it coming.  We were too certain that this would never happen.  We were so certain of ourselves and our desire to bring justice to the marginalized, that we failed to notice the man behind the curtain convincing people that their problems were rooted in those exact same marginalized.  We laughed, we parodied, and we lampooned Trump supporters, but we never took them seriously.  We made a circus out of the election, focusing on sexual escapades, all the while grossly underestimating the level of discontent among the working class.

And now here we are.  The people have spoken and we have to respect that.  This election is a real game changer, and it’s anybody’s guess the direction we are headed, but we have to respect the choice.  Pointing fingers and casting blame will only serve to dismantle us further.  We have been played and we have been played well.  It hurts; it sucks, and it’s hard, but if ever there was a time to be graceful – this is it.  The game is not over, not by a long shot, and we still get to choose how we treat each other. I choose love – not just for some, but for all of us.  I choose love today; I choose love always. I hope you will too.