Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | November 20, 2011

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

As darkness falls earlier these Fall and early winter months, the light shines more readily where it will.

It has been an amazing couple of weeks since I last posted. The beauty of this Fall has been outstanding… the carpet of leaves, the blue of the sky, the bright morning and soft evening light have seldom seemed so wonderful! You can hardly wipe the smile off my face.

Death will do that of course…. and there has been cause for weeping, and sorrow for those whose lives have been cut short (or just cut), or whose joys have been forever (or at least for a very long time) ruined or stained like soiled linen. And there is pain that we have failed in so many ways… but mostly in turning to God and to each other where and when we need it most.

A few weeks back now, I’d run short of sleep for a good long while. And then one day, as I came to the Lord’s Prayer, I stumbled to a point where I heard, “and forgive us our trespasses, as we trespass against those who forgive us…”.  And I stopped short thinking, “How ’bout that?”

How true this is…. that we seem in fact to trespass precisely against those folks who forgive us so much, so often and so willingly… and because they do, we seem to think so little of it. It’s their nature… they’re just good to us, they’re close to us. We love them, and we hurt them… even when we don’t want to.

Least of all, there’s those times where through lack of sleep, lack of focus or just not thinking… we find ourselves doing something, saying something… and just as with those around us, we wonder, “Where is this coming from? What is this about? How did I get here?” Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the enemy has set his trap and we’ve gone and fallen into it. One minute things are going along swimmingly, the next, we’re sifted like wheat.

Yet even catching ourselves at this juncture… BEFORE it’s too late, the sense that our prevailing presence together, our communion, has been interrupted. “Where are you? Why aren’t you here?” In fear of further trespass and overcome with the fruit of unknowing, our inability to swallow deeply, drop it all and throw ourselves on our knees and beg forgiveness. And yet their love prompts us with further kindness. How can we not? “Sure, because I am weak, and thus alone. Help me out of this, please.”

The Good News is that if we are truly made as creatures that can drop with our doing something… even something good… we can equally drop with doing something bad, something that is our will and separates us. We can even drop the notion that it IS our will…. because so often it really isn’t. Doesn’t mean we can stop ourselves… at least not now or yet, but it does mean we’d like to… and that’s a start.

I believe the typology of the Old Testament because it is our Life… we live these chapters, these books… we will or we may… or at least I have found it seems so… even if in a small peripheral or metaphorical way. And if we can understand them through the Light of Christ, we have a chance of living the gospel rather than just knowing the gospel, of living in the presence of God rather than running from Him. And we have this chance because it is the birth of the spiritual life, of living a life which is both here and now, and set in another way… another story. And this pairing itself is what allows our spirit to release a vice-like grip on this thing we call the present that so enamors, ensnares and entraps our thinking, our feeling, and our hearts that we tend to think there’s nothing else. There is. But without training ourselves through these stories and seeing ourselves within them, or more readily, their plots within our own lives…. we cannot free ourselves to an awareness of much, much less the least edgewise notion of the spiritual realm on whose borders we so often verge and shy away.

Nothing we hold firmly has room to grow, yet nothing we hold too loosely can carry us very far. As I read on the Holy Spirit and the discussion falls to antimonies, it seems to me the whole of the Christian life is summed in these paradoxes. Big whup? Sure, but it also summed up in the smallest of these as well. As I’ve said, if I can’t loosen my vision looking for my car keys, there’s not a chance in the world I’ll ever relax my grip on those things that I think are the ways “things should be” long enough to ever find Christ in my neighbor.

Through the course of the other night, I found myself drifting on the edge of sleep with the word on my lips, “…more honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than beyond compare than the Seraphim…” and as much as I’d rather needed to catch uninterrupted forty winks, I felt blessed and well rested in many ways despite the hard and long days and nights these weeks have seen. Sometimes, we simply don’t know the joys we have… even as they’re given to us in our sleep… or sleeping softly next to us, or in the next room(s).

And so as the darkness gathers in the light of our prayer candles this Advent, it is my prayer that you and yours will be gathered in by the Holy Spirit. Let Him loose in your life, and hold fast to His love as you can… that He may breathe into your life that sweet foretaste of which our hymns so often sing.


  1. Very nice. It is hard to embrace the fallow season.

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