Saturday, November 17, 2007

In The Dark

I have been doing a great deal of actual "thinking" lately. Take a second and try to remember the last time you settled yourself down and just began to "think." I think bloggers are thinkers. There is one I love to read: Catholic Teacher Musings.
Laura is a "muser" ie a "thinker." So I admire thinkers and am going to try to do more of it myself.

With that as an intro, I was thinking just the other day about our daily journey. Most people do not give it a thought...most do not even realize they are on one.. .a journey and odyssey that has a beginning, a middle and an end. I am a member of the Moore County Choral Society. ( At 66 I am the second youngest in the bass section.) I sit next to the junior member, whose name is Vince. Vince is an MD, a poet, a musician but most of all, he is a thinker. He tells me a great deal about his journey. We have great conversations though I, quite honestly, just do most of the listening.

Some of his musings (my apologies to Laura)reveal the intellectual and spiritual agony that a life's journey can have. He senses that despite all of his talents, he is still unfulfilled..he questions God, his faith, his future. He thinks that God is too arbitrary and capricious in His dealings with man. "Why would He give us rules and regulations that no man can follow?" he observes.

I am no apologist and my feeble responses are less than satisfactory. But I am seeing the deep pain and anguish of a man who is In The Dark. This is not an unusual place to be. Great saints have had darkness..St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who lived more than 40 years without any sense of the Divine Presence in her life. But in the darkness, God evidently chooses to do wonderful things in souls. I think, however, that I'll take a pass on that.

Again, as I was doing that most dangerous exercise...thinking...I had a thought. Christians give their hearts to Christ and then expect to have an easy time of it. Certain Evangelical preachers blame those in distress as lacking faith...not trusting
enough in God's providence. To those preachers, I say ...humbug!! The Christian life is oftentimes not a walk in the park, but a walk in the dark!!! God has a customized journey for each of us. And for many it includes periods, perhaps long stretches, of darkness. And this is what I hope to share with Vince. I want to say, "Vince, you are a favored soul in the eyes of God. 1000 questions do not make one doubt, as Cardinal Newman said. Question while in the darkness but hope for the light. Vince, Psalm 23 was written just for you: even though I walk in the valley of darkness I will fear no evil...For Thou art with me. Vince, though you don't see Him in these woods of darkness, feel His Hand and repeat over and over again...For Thou Art With Me...."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Change. How I hate it. I'm not talking about a pocket full of coins, although I hate that too! No, I am talking about transitions, for the lack of a better term. I look in the mirror each day and I wonder who the H$#% that is looking back at me? A graphic illustration of change. Where is that handsome 180 pound guy, with jet black hair and sensuous blue eyes? It seems as if he were here but last week but now he seems to have vanished..only to be replaced by some grey-haired, wrinkled, chubby visage that I hardly recognize. And how is it that my oldest child is 40 and my baby turns 20 in a few weeks? For not only is change apparent, it is subtle as well. While it is occurring, we are oblivious to it.

Greek philosophers were the first to study it. I think it was Parmenides who observed that even though the river is one, you can never put your foot in the same place twice. The Greeks observed that it is man's desire to be one, whole and unchangeable, but the unity and unchangeable nature of the soul conflicts with the multiplicity and decaying nature of the body. Of course, the Greeks didn't know about the Garden of Eden...about man before the fall. Some Scripture scholars tell us that before original sin, there was no chronological time and therefore, no death. So, there's the rub. Death. That is what we instinctively hate. Just as death was unnatural to the sinless man at the beginning, there is a residual loathing and fear of it in every human since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden.

Fortunately, in Christian belief, there will be an end to change and, therefore, death. At the coming of Christ at the end of time, all of the cosmos will be renewed and restored. Not just planet earth. This is God's gift to fallen man and a fallen world. For as James reminds us: Every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of Light, in whom there is no change or shadow of a turning. (James 1:17) Perhaps on that day I'll again see that handsome, 180 pound guy with jet black hair and those sensuous blue eyes. Maranatha!