From our everyday experience we know that both the windows of our homes, and the lenses through which we see through, must be kept clean and clear. We know these must be kept clean and clear so we can see the reality of what is both in us and in front of us. We must have the windows of our homes clean so that we can see out and light can filter in. When we enter into the storm of guilt, fear and shame, our windows and our lenses are splattered by dirt and grime which make seeing difficult and darkness appears. I came across the following, which I used last Sunday, from a wonderful book by Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.. She tells us, "darkness is a natural part of life, but I have fought this reality for years. It has taken me a long time to recognize that darkness is an essential element for personal growth. No matter how 'right things' I do, darkenss still comes unannounced and uninvited because it is an essential part of life. Without darkness I cannot become the person I am meant to be." Sister Joyce continues;
Darkness comes in many forms and is not an easy visitor. Our life experiences when 'dimness and disorder hold sway' are as many and as varied as we are. The Webster's Dictionary definition for darkness includes: "closed, hidden, not easily understood, obscure, gloomy, hopeless, entirely or partly without light." This description hardly touches the human experience of darkness. The darkness in the human heart also includes: lonely, shattered, dead, anxious, forlorn, bereft, despairing, discouraged, numbed, grief-laden, damaged, empty, bleak, fearful, traumatized, stumbling, aimless.
The land of darkness might be any or all of the following:
-a time in which the energy and focus of life is almost completely funneled into physical, emotional, or psychic pain
- a discouraging and empty inner sojourn when nothing seems valuable or worthwhile
- a stage of spiritual desolation in which there is no sense of God's presence and little or no desire for things of the spirit
- a battle of indecision and struggle, when the unknowns and fears of the future press painfully upon decisions to be made
- a fog-like state when life is confusing, unclear, and seemingly impenetrable
- a situation with evil and atrocity which threatens to overpower or annihilate
- an excruciating time of helplessness in which one feels paralyzed or powerless to alleviate the pain of another
- an on-going siege of negativity which brings with it constant frustration, irritation and dissatisfaction
This list of general descriptions of darkness could go on and on."
I want to encourage you to take these different states of darkness and see which of these states of darkness is overshadowing your life right now. I see, for myself, there is more than one right now. This is our sharing in the Pascal Mystery right now. This is why we have Lent and the journey with Jesus into the desert. This year's experience of Lent is so different for so many people. Not only do we have to journey into the powerlessness, desolation and darkness of the inside, but we also encounter powerlessness, darkness, frustration on the outside. This year, more than ever before, our everyday life is a real reflection of our inside journey.
"The Battlefield of My Soul" was posted earlier today. What is going on in "The Battlefield of My Soul" and so of all of our souls? We see there are two opposing forces, the force that is offering us the Aisling of God, God's dream for us, which is the life of being at ease. There is also the force that wants to not only to sabotage and but distroy that dream. When we are in darkness of guilt, fear and shame, we will be more inclined to deny God's dream and so live in disease. We must always then be on guard, be the alert, be aware of the constant need to continuously open ourselves up to the light of God which is faith, the life of God which whole, and the love of God, which reveals to us the loving presence of the Holy Spirit. So those who struggle with addictions and compulsions this is called serenity recovery. So we are now no longer death-dealers but life-givers to ourselves and consequently to the others that will enter into our life. We will now be wounded-wounders rather than wounded-healers.
I remember many years ago, I began to read the book by John Powell, Happiness is an Inside Job, I came across the following quotation, "Growth begins when the blaming ends". There and then, I threw away that book for five years! When we are using the escape hatch of blame, we will never hold ourselves responsible or anybody else responsible as well. Being responsible is part of growing up. Growing up is painful and in the process we have to face the disease, the darkness that can prevent us from having a life that is full and free. God's dream for you and me. We have been given the awesome gift of free-will we make a personal choice and so we no longer have the freedom to blame anyone or anything, not even God. God has become a wonderful scapegoat on whom we can lay blame for lack of responsibility on our part and the part of others. One of the classic God-blaming states is "God did this for a reason" when it was first and foremost the abuse of our freedom or us being the victim of other acts committed from their disease. When something painful happens in our lives, God does not cause the pain, but is hidden within the pain so he can journey with us from that pain into a new life, a new freedom. That is what Calvary, "Good Friday", Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday is all about. It takes time for the gift to appear from the transformation of the pain, but it will happen. All of our suffering, all of our darkness brought to prayer, always and I mean always, are thresholds leading to resurrection and new life.
So then it is not only necessary, it is essential to keep the windows and the lenses of our life clear so we can enjoy the Sunlight. The Sunlight that is always shining on each one of us each on at every moment of every day. No matter how dark the clouds are, the sun is shining above those clouds. When the clouds roll by, and for certain they will, we will be reminded of this fact. A reminder of this fact, light will overcome darkness. In these moments of change, transfiguration and transformation we will come to believe that light is permanent, darkness is transitory. Because we are believers in the Pascal Mystery, we can now see that in every failure is already sown the seeds of the resurrection. In every success, there is sown the seeds of failure.
We cannot build a tower to the sky, all of our towers crumble at some stage in our lives. All we have to do is look at our society and see the towers that were built on ego and disease have now crumbled. What happens next is God takes the rubble of our fallen towers and builds his Kingdom within us. These moment are our Gethsemane moments. The falling of our towers and the pain and the darkness of loss are our Gethsemane moments. It is our Calvary moment when wee cry out "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why have you foresaken me? Why do I feel so alone?" Our faith leads us to surrender in faith, "Father into your hands I commend my spirit". The resurrection, transformation, transfiguration has now begun. I love the prayer, "May our faith, hope and charity turn hatred to love, violence to peace, death to eternal life."
"The human eye in selective what it wants to see and also evades what it does not want to see. It is a startling truth how you see, what you see determines how and who you will see....When you really look deeply at something, it becomes part of you...To look at something that can gaze back at you or that has a reserve and depth, can heal your eyes and deepen your sense of vision." Anam Cara