Today's lectionary reading: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Numbers 20:22-29; John 3:1-13
Selected passage for reflection: John 3: 19-21 (NIRV)
John 3: 19-21
19 Here is the judgment. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light. They loved darkness because what they did was evil. 20 Everyone who does evil deeds hates the light. They will not come into the light. They are afraid that what they do will be seen. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. They live by the truth with God’s help. They come into the light so that it will be easy to see their good deeds.
“It’s really dark outside,” it seems my 2 year old has made it her job to communicate when it is dark outside. Generally this is followed by things we can’t do (go on a walk, play outside) and things we should do (sleep, stay inside). In her own way she has judged darkness; she doesn’t love it. I sense she has some apprehension or even fear connected to the dark. It reminds me of how pure children are; she prefers the light.
In John, we are given one of the most beloved verses to so many Christians, you know “God so loved the world...” and what I am drawn to is this contrast of Jesus as the light, being in the light. I am drawn to the light too. In darkness there is evil, that's what John teaches us. It’s dark outside, it’s full of pain and suffering. Full of despair, anxiety, loneliness. Fear, grief, secrecy, sickness, failure, mistrust….this list can go on and on. As a psychotherapist, I am privileged to bear witness to personal darkness and the uncomfortable ways people experience that darkness. It seems only natural to avoid this pain inducing darkness.
This darkness has been all around us in this past year. We are desperate as a people to get out of the darkness.
All of my favorite metaphors demonstrate the need for struggle in order to grow, to become. A butterfly must struggle to get out of the chrysalis to become; cut it out and it will die. This season is the season of darkness in our Christian faith, the mystery of Easter awaits, the light is coming. This season is necessary. We can’t become just yet. It’s a natural urge to get to the next few lines, the lines about light. Even as I type, I want to get to the light, but my spirit urges me to honor the trepidation of the darkness. Sitting in the tough, the sad, and the desolate is so uncomfortable, because the light of Christ inside each of us knows what is true and good: being in the light fills us with hope.
But wait. Wait on Christ to lead us into the light.
And as I reply to my daughter, “the sun will come out soon”, I am also reminded of the words of Amanda Gorman:
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
If only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.
A casual meditation: Wait, now. Sit still and notice the darkness. Notice how it feels to connect to the discomfort. Breathe. Give space for your avoidant nature to try to distract. Breathe. Forgive. Breathe. Just be. The doing is for later. Call to mind the light and feel the warmth all over you.
God of darkness and light, You reign over both the day and night. Even in the darkest of times, You are God. Let peace fill our heads and our hearts as we look for the light. Help us to turn from evil and run toward the light. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
About the Author
Laraine Fraijo-Paul is a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta, GA. She specializes in anxiety, life stress, and family issues. She is married to Megan and is a mother to Mary Eleanor and Olivianna. Her family enjoys daily walks within their neighborhood of Kirkwood with their dogs: Berkeley and Charleigh. They are members at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. Bloomconsultation.com