Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And the Darkness Shall Not Overcome the Light

My Twitter feed filled with news of Boston yesterday. I turned on the television to see more. Explosions. Bombs. People dead. People bleeding. Lives changed by senseless acts of violence. Again.

The media and I daresay, a fair number of clergy, decide they are wise enough to answer the looming question of, "Why?" As of right now, we don't know specifics, and we likely never know the full answer to, "Why?" My experience is that people who engage in such horrific acts of violence aren't capable of knowing why they did what they do. We, in our day-to-day lives, in our small acts of violence against another, are as unaware. So perhaps we need to ask "Why?" until we have been angry and grief-filled long enough. "Why?" is a question of pain and grief. As my writing peer Rachel Hackenberg notes, we in our culture move too fast from Good Friday to Easter. So mourn, cry, hold loved ones close, watch the news if you need to, turn it off if you need to.  Live in the tragedy of it all in your way, and resist telling others how they should grieve.  That in itself is an act of violence.

And when you feel God stirring, remember that the world is filled with many, many small acts of kindness and love. Far more, I think, than the acts of violence. My own soul, when bloodied by the shrapnel of the bombs of others' unaware anger and rage, has been nurtured and healed by these acts. And we are hearing of the selfless acts of so many on that day who came to watch a marathon and instead held the hands of those wounded and bleeding.

The Prologue of John reminds us that the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome the Light. John doesn't say the Light makes the darkness go away. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be part of the way this life works.  But the darkness will not overcome the Light.

In the Episcopal tradition, the Paschal Candle is lit from the new fire at the Easter Vigil as the sun sets and darkness begins to descend. It also burns for all funerals. In the darkness of grief and sadness for those mourning the death of a loved one and all the complicated emotions that often accompany grief, the Light of Christ still shines.  The Light doesn't make the grief go away. The Light doesn't negate or ignore our questions. The Light simply shines, reminding us that darkness does not have the last word. Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.

The Light of Christ accompanies us in our grief and anger at such senseless violence and death, allowing us to feel all of what we feel in our messiness of the aftermath.  The Light of Christ reminds us that Jesus, too, knows what deep wounds and death at the hands of violence feel like.  So we can be in Good Friday for as long as we need to be there. And the darkness of this shall not overcome love. Somehow, someway.

Holy God, we pray for all who have been victims of violence, especially those who have been impacted by the bombs in Boston.  Surround them with your love, support them in their pain, and sustain them in their healing. Enable us to respond to these acts of violence with your acts of love, and may we live forth the truth that the darkness does not overcome the Light.  Amen.

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