Wednesday, April 15, 2020

in the night

In the night... or in the desert... however you perceive it. These are places where we are made to walk by faith, not sight; times when we feel the dehydrating heat of the desert encroaching on our souls, or the blinding darkness of night enveloping us: either a seeming threat to our being.

Perhaps you feel this is one of those times.

I wrote what follows months ago, intending to share it whenever the time felt right. Never would I ever have thought it would be in a time such as this... but I know many people now feel the darkness of night, or the dryness of the desert, creeping in.

Life, it seems, goes in phases... of living in the desert, perhaps overcome by thirst, unsure if you'll survive, and finding a path out of the desert to some kind of oasis, 
however temporary - or finding your way out of night into the soft light of morning before being absorbed into the harsh light of midday. We all experience it differently. Mother Teresa spent decades deprived of the sense of God's presence... walking by faith and not sight, indeed. 

Four years ago, I was plunged into darkness, aided by the betrayal of a friend whose actions shredded my soul. I can’t say I handled it particularly well - it was an incredible fight, of which I frequently wanted no part. I was not at my best. Given the circumstances, perhaps any other expectation was unreasonable.

It’s like having your ship wrecked on a rocky coastline and in trying to pick your way over the field of jagged rocks to the sand, sometimes you just want to give up... because dammit, it’s midnight under a new moon. You can’t see a thing and you think you might actually die out here, in some awful way. Midnight seems to last forever.

You try to appreciate the stars, but you’re so busy trying to survive, to not fall on a rock, split your head open, and perish, and you're overwhelmed by how hard this is... 

Somewhere in the struggle, you realize that you’re already bruised and bleeding. If you make it to the sandy shore, and if you survive until daybreak, you’ll never be the same. Oh, you had wounds before, but you never anticipated how that collection would grow. 

Meanwhile, there are those who tell you, “just offer it up!”

And there are those who try to tell you it’s your fault.

And there are those who tell you that you just have to "let it go" - and obviously you're not doing a good enough job of that, because you've barely made it over one of those rocks, let alone all those ahead.

Meanwhile, your legs are cut and your hands are scraped... all their talking makes that soul-crushing, breath-taking pain worse, and you feel even more alone, because no one lends their hand. No one reaches down into your pain to crawl over those rocks alongside you.

Perhaps finally, someone appears to speak a word of hope or relief, to bind up your wounds, to speak a word of calm, place a hand on your back and encourage you to breathe, just for a minute, before struggling on - as they now accompany you, because even though the fight is not explicitly their own, they stay with you, in the solidarity that is love. 

If you are not struggling right now, be there for someone who is. Be that word of hope, relief, calm. Help someone breathe. 

If you are struggling right now, I am here for you; please reach out. Let's talk.

We are in this together.

We will get through this together.

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