In Holy Week one is rather more sensitive to darkness but also to its mystical beauty. We are told that darkness and light are both of God even though we have created a myth that light is of God and darkness is somehow evil or bad. Might that not simply be our fear of what happens in the dark?
I live on a very green, lush New Mexico farm. It sits quietly, humbly, beside the Rio Grande in its ancient flood plains. We have, thanks to engineering, all the benefits of the rich soil but also all of the modern control of water flow which benefits modern mankind in the era of cell phones and post-it note paper – miracles of the modern age. And misles. And nuclear warheads. And the air fryer – my most recent modern delight. (Do you know? I mean really! Do you know that one can bread and air fry chicken wings in only one eighth of teaspoon of oil? Amazing!)
Life, this marbled rye we live, is replete with darkness as with light but I have become weary of demonizing the darkness like I did as a 4 year-old, afraid of what was under the bed. Ok. Also like a 54 year-old afraid of, well, just about everything. Fear -riggers are everywhere, but people with PTSD are hooked by them like brambles on flannel pajamas as we flee our demons in the dark woods of our very real lives .
Often I climb the wooden ladder to my roof with a pillow, blanket and a thermos of sugarless hot chocolate (with a wee dram of Scotch for warmth.) I watch the stars. We never have rain (well, 30 days of it) and so it is usually a cloudless, insect-less sky, if chilly in the high dessert. And since I live on a very large farm bordered as it is by parks and horse and goat farms, the darkness is indeed dark and the stars are very, very light within it. Howls of roosters and coyotes just add to the drama with a soundtrack of hope and fear.
I am sad that my life is so filled with fear these days but I am beginning to realize that everyone’s is. Will I die? Will Kai die? Will we suffer at the end or will it be merciful and quick? Will it be by illness? By the hand of God or by my own? Will I be able to maintain enough courage to keep going or have the betrayals and hurts of life been gaining ground en masse, circling like wild dogs? Will a gift arrive in the mail – a coffee table book of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, or will it burn down some evening? (At least the French will have the emotional intelligence to examine a cause and weep rather than bomb Iran (just in case it was, you know, them!)
I am not alone. I may over-share as a writer like I used to as a preacher, but I am not alone in my fears. And a few of my 5,000 Sip readers write to me every week saying how relieved they are for a “cyber preacher” to be honest about their failings and fears – their hopes but also their despair. They need people who, like them, are mere mortals. Piety whether of clergy or regular folk is like a tiara – impressive, even dazzling, but useless otherwise. Now if the tiara was designed also to open a beer bottle well, then I would reconsider my harsh word about tiaras. Though probably not about piety. Especially not this week. (Crowns of thorns notwithstanding.)