Darkest before the dawn

IN EARLY 2020, I said we were entering a war-like scenario. Back then not many agreed with me. Some laughed. Still, many saw it coming. Now, nearly two years later, we’re all war weary.

My mother lived through two major wars (WWII and Korean), and this is her second pandemic. Mine too. Living in Pittsburgh at the time, she caught the Hong Kong flu when I was just a baby (1968). Mom told me she thought she was going to die while she cradled me in her arms.

Live long enough and you are certain to face at least one major world crisis. This is ours. 

As we head out of 2021 and into 2022, uncertainty rules the day. Here in Buenos Aires it feels like you’ve been given 6 puzzles you have to assemble. But all the pieces have been mixed together. Everybody is sick or has been exposed (or exposed to someone exposed).

It’s like we live in parallel worlds. In one we worry about serious social, political, economic, and health consequences. In the other, we go about our daily lives as if it’s all just a dream. 

Yet you see it in the other’s eyes. You feel it on the streets. Humanity is tired, stressed, sad… and angry.

We find ourselves juggling too many tasks and shouldering extra responsibilities. We’re forced to solve complex life problems while the authorities provide us with inadequate (or manipulative) guidance.

It’s no surprise that some channel their frustration into anger. It could be in towns of East Germany, the Circus Maximus in Rome, or across the dinner table. Either way, we’re tempted to lash out since we’re tired of being told what to do.

And still, we find ways to celebrate. We discover reasons to rejoice. Our resilience amazes me.

But not everybody is so tough. Many failed to find a way through this mess. Many have been left behind and forgotten. And we know it. And it hurts.

Sometimes, in all the pain and confusion, I find myself looking for an excuse to go for a drive — just so I can play the music loud — just so I can sing and shout out my frustrations.  

Every war is like this. People struggle, fight, die, and celebrate. We cry out in frustration. Dealing with crisis after crisis wears you down. And in every war, whether dodging bullets or germs, a profound spiritual combat unfolds.

Yes, we must stay out of harm’s way. And we fixate on data or protocols since it gives us a sense of control. But the reality is that life is far beyond our control. It’s a wild, unpredictable, wonderous beast. And ironically, the more information we have, the more we can’t find the truth, let alone agree on it.   

This decade has been terrifying so far. And the only thing that gives me a sense of stability is an ancient truth — the truth of Christ Jesus resurrected.

I’m not seeking a Jesus of sayings, memes, and slogans. I’m not looking for a quick fix to make me feel better for a millisecond.

Instead, I’m seeking the lasting teachings, found in ancient scriptures, of my Master and Savior, the one that set my soul free.

And how does he tell us to find clarity in times of confusion? It’s the new and old commandment that holds all truth.

Love your brother. Love your sister. Love those in need. Love your enemy even.

This is our brilliant light in the darkness.

This is the way we love Almighty God. 

When times get confusing, like now, we don’t seek love instinctively. Instead we hunker down, look for a fight, consume information, or protect what we have.

But the Gospel is clear. The Lord commands us to love. This is the clearest way out of any mess, crisis, or struggle.

If there is anything that defines our times it is confusion and conflict. Everyone claims to know the truth and everyone points fingers.

So I ask myself, how much energy do I spend complaining or blaming? And how much effort do I give to loving? 

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. (1 John 2:9-10)

So love is the light that keeps you from stumbling. This is the Gospel’s practical advice. It is not a flimsy philosophy or blind optimism. It’s not being one with the universe or gazing at the stars for guidance. Instead, it’s finding Spirit guided ways to make a real, concrete difference in reducing the misery in this world.

There you have your purpose. It’s true action. It’s the way to deeper meaning. This is how the Lord commands us to live… and it’s the secret to find our way out of the darkness.

Ask yourself, during the past two years, have you come to the conclusion that the best way forward is to love more? I haven’t, but I want to. I have no idea how the next year will play out. Hopefully it will be less intense. Still, we must prepare spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Feed upon scripture. Pray every day. Commune with the Body that is the Church. Be a shining light upon the hill.

It’s not about being a hero. It’s about being a saint… or at least trying our best with no excuses.

It doesn’t depend on you or me. So let’s get over ourselves and give the Spirit of God room to work and breathe.

Let us be his muscle and his tenderness.  

Yes, I still may need to go for a car ride once in a while to shout out my frustrations. But what will guide me is what I have seen and tasted — the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The Light of the world is Jesus, the incarnate love of God. If we follow this light, this love, we will not stumble, we will not fail. 

. . . . . . .

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

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4 Replies to “Darkest before the dawn”

  1. Ask yourself, during the past two years, have you come to the conclusion that the best way forward is to love more? I haven’t, but I want to. I have no idea how next year will play out. Hopefully it will be less intense. Still, we must prepare spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
    Feed upon scripture. Pray every day. Commune with the Body that is the Church. Be a shining light upon the hill.
    It’s not about being a hero. It’s about being a saint… or at least trying our best with no excuses.
    It doesn’t depend on you or me. So let’s get over ourselves and give the Spirit of God room to work and breathe.
    Let us be his muscle and his tenderness.
    ——-

    so poetic,love it and thank you!

    Like

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