Saturday, December 15, 2012

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it - BUT it has come very close.

To add to my yearning below - about the horrors of the shootings of little children in the USA yesterday - I am reprinting something by Anne Lamott who scratches where I itch in terms of writing/reflecting.


The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it although this time, or at least right now, it has come very close. 

My pastor talks often about our dual citizenship, as children of God, and Goodness, gorgeous and divine, and we are also people with human biographies and wounds and families, living in a world of unimaginable suffering, brutality, madness. 

We are lighthouses of sacred love, and we are a violent species; Cain is still killing Abel. 
What do we do today? 
Where do we even start? 
I wish there was a site called, 
Our Plan for the Next Few Days, in the face of Newtown. 

I can't find it, but I've realized a few things and remembered a few things, and have decided to share them. Is it okay to stayed glued to the TV? Yes, if you need to. Is it okay not to watch any TV, and just do exactly what we had planned? 
Yes; anything you are doing, thinking, blocking, to get through these days, is okay. 
Do we go ahead with our plans to make gingerbread houses with our little ones? 
Of course. 
Do we make another visit to a seemingly uncomprehending relative at the convalescent home? 
Of course. 
Do we go through our neighborhood today picking up little, even as we know that there will be more tomorrow? 
Of course? 
Do we plant bulbs in the cold rocky crummy earth? 
Do we light candles? 

I also remembered a conversation I had with my Jesuit friend Tom Weston during a bleak, cold, excruciating Advent day, three years ago, that I wrote up in Some Assembly Required. 

Here is some of what we talked about, which I am finding helpful today: 
Where, I asked that day in 2009, in such despair and chaos, is Advent? 
He tried to wiggle out of it by saying, 
“You Protestants and your little questions!” 
Then he said: 
“Faith is a decision. 
Do we believe we are ultimately doomed and fucked and there’s no way out? 

Or that god and goodness makes a difference? There is heaven, community and hope—and hope that there is life beyond the grave.” “But Tom, at the same time, the grave is very real, dark and cold and lonely.” 

“Advent is not for the naïve. Because in spite of the dark and cold, we see light—you look up, or you make light, with candles, trees. 
And you give light. 
Beauty helps, in art and nature and faces. 
Friends help. 
Solidarity helps. 
If you ask me, when people return phone calls, it’s about as good as it gets. 
And who knows beyond that.” 

Advent says that there is a way out of this trap—that we embrace our humanity, and Jesus’s humanity, and then we remember that he is wrapped up in God. 
It’s good to know where to find Jesus—in the least of these--among the broken, the very poor and marginalized. 

Jesus says, ‘You want to see me? Look there.’ 
So after talking to Tom that day, I did notice the beautiful, deciduous tree-lined streets of Marin, CGI-level flame-colored autumn leaves. 
Two towns over, I saw a dozen snowy egrets in what must have been a very delicious meadow by the side of the road, and I had enough sense to pull over and sit and watch them eat for awhile. 

I called Tom yesterday as soon as I heard about the shootings. 
Neither of us said anything interesting, but we hung out together on the phone and listened to each other's voices, and grieved for the families of Newtown, and that helped. 
These tiny bits of connection to the broken are very real, and the kindness and attention people show to one another create a tiny bit of light. That’s Advent.

Anne Lamott