Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
Darkness. It has been all around us this past week. So much death and destruction. Boston. Texas. Iraq. China. It seemed like the darkness grew deeper with each passing day. By Friday of last week, my heart was heavy with it.
I have no direct connection to any of the events that occured. I do not know anyone who died, nor was I even close to any of those places. But one only needed to turn on the news to see that the darkness was growing with intensity.
Knowing that the weight of the week hung with me, a friend sent me a picture on Friday. It was of a sunrise out west. I stared at the picture, and I thought of the two sunrises that I had witnessed in that week. Sunrises are unusual for me to see, particularly this time of year. Sunsets are much more common.
“Darkness doesn’t fall,” my father always reminded me. “It rises.”
Ever since I was young, my mind has turned to those words with each sunset, like the one pictured above. Intently, my eyes follow the shadows that begin deep in the valleys and slowly crawl their way up until the last bit of light is overtaken. Surely, darkness rises.
This past week has been one, prolonged, painful sunset. We have watched as the darkness has crept up in our collective consciousness.
Have you ever been in total darkness? I have. Inside in a giant cave, we sat on a wooden bench. There were stern warnings that the ensuing darkness that would come when they cut the lights would be unsettling. I’ve been in darkness, before, I thought. I wasn’t concerned.
But then, they cut the lights.
I sat there, waiting for my eyes to adjust as they aways had before. Minutes passed in silence. I still could not see.
A voice spoke from afar, “Put your hand in front of your face.” I did. And I couldn’t see it.
My eyes did not adjust, and they never would. We sat there in total blackness. I knew that there were 20 other people around, but I could not see them. I couldn’t hear them. Deep in that cavernous belly of the earth, I felt totally alone.
This, I thought. This is the place where echoes come to die. They come to die in a blackness that is so black that it engulfs you.
This past week, I nearly felt like I was suffocating in the darkness.
“The helpers,” they said. “Look for the helpers.” I tried. God, I tried. I tried to look at the pictures and the footage and see the helpers, but my eyes would fixate instead on the gore–on the limbs literally ripped off, on the blood that pooled on the sidewalk. They also said, “Sure there are a few evil people in this world, but there are so many more good people. Do you see all the good this brought out in people?”
I did, but all the good in the world doesn’t erase the evil that seeps from the underbelly of the human race–that seething darkness that crawls up inch by inch. And I couldn’t help but wonder why it takes so much evil to bring out the good in people.
Evil. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that word come across the lips of priest that I knew. In the course of a conversation a few years ago, he said “Evil is all around us.” I paused and let the thought sink in. I shifted in my seat.
“I’m not comfortable with that,” I said.
“Doesn’t matter–it’s there,” he responded.
The truth is that I’m still not very comfortable with the idea of evil – that pure, unadulterated hatred. But this past week was a reminder that it is very much present here and now.
Many people–believers and non-believers alike–struggle with the idea that there is so much evil and darkness in the world. And if that’s the case, how can there be a God? I ask myself that question, too, sometimes. But then I am reminded that God did not create the darkness. It was already there. God named the darkness; he created the light.
The darkness crept up last week, but as I stared at a picture of a sunrise that my friend sent, I was reminded once again that just as surely as the sun sets, it will rise again. And just because we cannot see the light, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
It sits just beyond the horizon, waiting with bated breath, to break through once again.