“Our role in life is to bring the light of our own souls to the dim places around us.”
― Joan D. Chittister
Living life in such a way as to bring light and love to places that are dark and dingy is without a doubt a call that God has issued to us. It is rooted in our baptism. We strive to seek and serve Christ in ALL persons… seeking Christ in all persons is seeking LIGHT. When we promise to respect the dignity of every human being, we are, without a doubt, striving to bring Light to dim places. When we commit to taking seriously our need to renew and restore the face of the earth, we are bringing Light to the dim destruction that we have hoisted on this planet. When we say that we will strive for unity, we are seeking to bring Light to the darkness of division, and to hatred. We are committing to removing walls that keep the Light out. Our Baptism calls us to be LIGHT to others and to seek LIGHT in others.
So why does it seem so hard some days? Why is it so difficult to bring Light to a dim place? Why is it that the darkness at times seems impenetrable? As we approach Epiphany, we can acknowledge that this very season is a declaration that Light triumphs over darkness. On Christmas day we heard read from John’s Gospel;
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
“Our role in life is to bring the light of our own souls to the dim places around us.” Very true! I am convinced that this is hard to accomplish if our own light has been extinguished. Many of you will know of what I speak. If we have been maligned, abused, ignored, forgotten, or taken for granted at all in our lives, we often do not feel like we have much light to shine into any dim corners. Our batteries run low, if you will, and we find ourselves feeling more like a dim corner seeking for someone to bring light, than we do the people of God who are called to bring light. Yet we profess that the Light that is God cannot and will not be extinguished by the dark forces of this world. It is in our darkness that we must listen closely to hear the whisper of the God who is Opportunity, who is Possibility, who is Creating, who is Hope. And we have to be discerning. Discerning, because often the voices that we hear first are those drenched with doubt and damp with despair. These are misanthropic voices that seek to hobble hope and to hinder Incarnation. It is not easy some days. I know that all too well. And yet…. The One who is Incarnation, the One who us With-us, the One who is Birther, the One who is Life-Giver, The One who is Healer, the One who is Life-Light, blazes out of darkness, calling our name – Beloved. God is here and God who is Hope reminds us that She is constantly experiencing labour pains, giving birth to something new, in us, for us, around us.
In his book On Religion, John Caputo writes:
“The name of God is the name of the chance for something absolutely new, for a new birth, for the expectation, the hope, the hope against hope (Rom. 4:18) in a transforming future. Without it we are left without hope and are absorbed by rational management techniques.”
I sometimes feel like the church relies far too much upon rational management techniques, and far too little on God, The-Chance-for-Something-Absolutely-New. If we are able to access this God of new chances, even at our dimmest moments we might remember that as God’s beloved, we indeed can bring some Light, some Hope, some Love, and some Possibility to the people around us…. and if we are NOT careful – to the church. I hope we can all hear the voice of that God.
Remind us that you are not in need of perfection
Remind us that we are beloved.
Remind us that there are endless chaotic possibilities for something new.
Remind us that there is always hope, no matter how damp, dank, and dark this moment may be.
Remind us that your Love, your Light, your Presence cannot be rationally managed.
Speak up, so that we may hear your untamed call to live as light.
Don’t be afraid to shout – we sometimes cannot hear you over the din of despairing voices.
Blaze and burn within us and around us
that we may come to know the Reign of your Love and Peace. Amen.