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Posts Tagged ‘darkness’

Don Quijote by Octavio Ocampo

Don Quijote by Octavio Ocampo

What is your outlook on life? What is mine, really? Am I a visionary or am I looking down at all the ruts in the road? Do I see a panorama or have I become tunnel visioned? Do I face each day with anticipation (because anything can happen) or apprehension? Do I keep things “in perspective” or is my world askew . . . because of my outlook?

 Listen, your eye, your outlook, the way you see is your lamp. If your way of seeing is functioning well, then your whole life will be enlightened. But if your way of seeing is darkened, then your life will be a dark, dark place. So be careful, people, because your light may be malfunctioning.  [Luke 11:34-45, The Voice Translation]

It’s probably a little of both, but today, I want to be aware. I want to be sensitive to my default way of looking. What is drop-back to normal really like? I have a bad feeling about this assignment today. I talk a good talk; I write a good write. But how do I really look at the world around me?

Be brave. Be true.

I am a visual person mostly. I take the world in through my eyes. But have I lost much of what is out there to see?

Back in the day, I had the honor of playing Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker by William Gibson. And although it’s a dramatic moment  the movie to watch Helen Keller suddenly “understand” her world and give water a name, it is even more mind-blowing to live it onstage with another actress fully engaged in the role. Helen Keller saw in a way that most of us never will. She met her  world head on and embraced it.

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Lot Fleeing Sodom
by Benjamin West c.1810

When Lot and Abraham’s households parted, Lot chose the lush land and the river plain that included five cities, one of which was Sodom. When the angels went to witness the “abominations”in that city, they had a first-hand encounter at the house of Lot where they were threatened with gang rape. Gadzooks! Wouldn’t this experience be enough to flee the city even without the threat of imminent destruction?

Genesis 19:15-17a
 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he [Lot] hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back . . .

Had Lot become complacent about the activities in his city? Had he lost sight of right and wrong and oblivious to the sin around him?

According to the story, in the night, his house was surrounded by ALL the men of the city (even if only a handful had been there, the story is horrific), and these were men who were sexually charged and blindly so. I understand that some people have sex with one another in a kind of cannibalistic way, wanting to “take in” the characteristics of the other, to be one with the beauty or success or talent. I can well imagine somehow that the “angels” might have been desirable in this way, in their “wonder.” I can even imagine them as “light” in the dark, illuminated from within.

But whether this is true or not, Lot refused the crowd and offered his virgin daughters. I have never understood how that was possible. How could a father offer his own girls to a gang? But, now I conjecture tat he was mocking the men outside for he knew they had no interest in women because the crowd’s reaction to his suggestion was indignation as though Lot was judging them. All very odd.

The story gets more “supernatural” when the angels blind the crowd which then protects the house from entry. The tale sounds like something out of the movies or Dr. Who. What is the point? The Genesis story hadn’t had a miracle on this order for several generations. Why now?

And then, after all this, Lot hesitates about leaving the city. Doh! (as Homer Simpson would say).

It’s so easy to get caught up in these Bible stories and wonder what is God doing? But the stories are really about God more than they are about Human. Ever since Adam, we should know, mistakes were made every day. Just like us. Biblical scholar, Andrew Whyte wrote: “Lot is the father of all those men whose righteous souls are vexed with the life they are leading, but who keep on enduring the vexation.”

There is only this then: God saves Human from destruction by grace, not because of worthiness. Lot was dragged out of the city even after he hesitated (more than likely, he had invested his wealth in the city), and it’s even possible that he didn’t understand this action at the time as “saving him” since he lost everything except for his life and the lives of his two daughters. It was a close save.

And yet, it was a second chance, or perhaps a third chance or a fourth chance to enter into a God covenant, to turn a life over to God. This particular chance appears to be as a result of Abraham’s prayers (negotiations) with God.

I try to remind myself daily: there is no one who cannot be saved. I think on this a great deal since I was one of those, I was in the crowd of Sodom as a young woman living in New York City. There was no reason for God to pull me out of the City. I had not earned it. My transformation came by grace, despite my hesitations and pre-conceived ideas of what it meant to follow Christ. I was a close call too.

And God’s grace continues still. Thanks be to God.

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Restart. Rewind. Renew. Begin . . . again. Yesterday, Pastor Jess said, “no one is unreachable.” There is a time and a place for everyone. There is a moment of discovery, a moment when the “light” wins. Today, in the midst of the biggest storm (Hurricane Sandy) the Mid-Atlantic has ever experienced, the light is coming back on in my spirit, finally. Like the tiny flame of a candle in a dark room, it reveals much. It’s time to fan the flame. I am turning on despite the lights outside going out.

Genesis 1:1-3
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

When God, who is able to create “something out of nothing,” created light, God stopped and looked around and said, “good stuff,” good work, well done: this is pleasing. Light is good. Revelation is good. Renewal is good.

It’s possible that we will lose power soon and light will be hard to come by in the natural world. We will be plunged into the darkness of the storm. And we will have to find sustenance in the small things and the small lights. We will hold fast to those lights. And we will have to remind ourselves of the hope that promises greater lights in the days to come: recovery, rebuilding, renewal. It will be possible again.

In the meantime, however, I want to remember that my own small light began to shine again today. The word was illuminated and I breathed in Spirit.

 

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Blinding Darkness

I don’t hate anyone. I don’t think I hate anyone. It’s such a strong word, so bitter. It conjures up all kinds of negative feelings, dark looks, hostile language. But of course, I have said “I can’t stand her” or “I can barely tolerate being around him.” Am I any better? Have I split the “hate” hairs?

I John 2:11
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

So, here’s what I know right now. There’s been enough negativity coming out of my mouth, right off the top of my heart, that I’m living in twilight… not darkness, but not light either.

And the twilight is casting shadows in my relationships.

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I am no scientist so I don’t have much to add to any discussion about “light” as a phenomenon. I know that light travels very fast and mostly we see light as a reflection. I know light can be a wonderful respite in a dark place and intolerable with a migraine. But am I in relationship with Light?


I John 1:5, 7a
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. . . . But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, . . .

It’s difficult to talk about light in some new way that hasn’t already been investigated, sermonized, or otherwise been fully covered through exegesis. The only opening in this very crowded marketplace would be something very personal.

So what could that be? How do I engage light in my daily life? The light I read by at night in my bed? The lights of my car when I’m driving at night, less and less securely? The light of the computer screen? The light of candles that dot most of the surfaces in my home? The only time my family doesn’t complain about the candles are those infrequent days when the electricity goes out. There is the light in the refrigerator that I take for granted. There is the light in my stove that has never worked. There is the street light outside that manages to seep through my blinds and twinkle just enough to wake me in the middle of the night. There is the light show from my cable and router, day and night, pulsing out the information bits that stream across my desk.

But all of these lights are outside of me.

Do I know the light within? Is it just an idea, a way of expressing an unknowable, unseen presence? Or is there light in the soul, the heart, the spirit?

Other faiths speak of the light as well. New Age folks as well as various Eastern religions follow the idea that the light within is one of the most powerful energies in the Universe. The Light of the World.

Light to light: heart to heart: human to human: God to human and back again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to artificially “glow in the dark” which is apparently now possible in animals through some kind of scientific hi jinx. Here’s a story about glowing cats. But I would like to experience the light within in a tangible way. Is that stupid? I suppose some would say I’m talking about “aura” or some other para-psychological phenomenon.

I don’t mean that either. God is Light and God is within. Therefore, light is within and that light must be of greater value than just a nice metaphor.

Relax, everyone. I’m just thinking out loud. Has anyone out there had a Christ-based experience with Light? I’d be interested in your stories.

From the web: (an excerpt from the publication, Sacred Architecture)
Light, then, formed the “medium and message” for illiterate Christians of the Middle Ages, using narrative and metaphoric imagery to convey the truths of the Faith while steeping the faithful in the spiritually evocative experience of the beauty of God with a mystical atmosphere created by jewel-toned pictures written in light, as well as subtly changing colors in the air and on interior stone walls. The faithful, accustomed to learn aurally, received the message of the Gospel verbally—but with reinforcing visual images created by light, sources of beauty and awe that, it was believed, could mystically connect the eyes of the beholder with the truths depicted, and thus remain lifelong reminders of catechetical knowledge and of the experience of God.

The modern church would do well to rediscover these proven catechetical techniques, filling church interiors with beautiful images of colored light, thereby satisfying human desires for visual stimulation, symbolic representations of theological truths, and the touch of the mystical in prayer. Modern eyes are exposed to so much sophisticated visual imagery; our catechetical efforts should include much more than written words by building upon the rich heritage of visual catechesis displayed by the traditions associated with stained glass windows. The Church teaches that eternal bliss in Heaven is the Beatific Vision—an experience expressed as a “visual” encounter with the knowledge of God, a “light” that fulfills and completes each person’s existence for all eternity. By providing visual and atmospheric beauty that captures the eternal truths in “lights of Faith,” the windows in our churches can teach as before and give an experience of the transcendent to the faithful, to “go beyond mere teaching—unless the sudden instinctive recognition of beauty is the greatest lesson of all.” — Lights of Faith, Stained Glass Windows as Tools for Catechesis by Carol Anne Jones

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