There’s been a post brewing in my soul for the past several weeks, and although it’s a little hard to know where to begin with it (or if it will even come together), I think it’s probably time to try writing it.
If you read this blog even semi-regularly, if you attend the church where I preach, or if you have any kind of informal conversation with me now and then, then you’ll know that over the past several months (maybe even years?) I’ve been in a fairly dark and lonely place.
My prayers have felt cold, rising from my chest like a limp fish, hitting the floor instead of the Ear of Heaven. The Bible has felt dry and distant; like a newspaper written in a language I barely understand.
My companions in this place have been few, and I fear sometimes that they (like me) have grown weary of the scenery here, in this spiritual desert (cue the scene from Lord of the Rings where Frodo and Sam are getting closer and closer to Mt. Doom).
Movement is needed. I get it. For myself as much as my companions on this journey, I cannot stay in the wastes of Mordor forever. This isn’t a place I would have chosen to enter…but if I’m honest I will say I’ve come to like it here.
I’ve learned some hard lessons. I’ve learned that God is thankfully (and infuriatingly) independent from me, while at the same time we are intimately woven together so that it’s often hard to find the boundaries between divinity and humanity.
I’ve learned that the times it would be easiest (and make the most sense) to write off this Christian thing (or more specifically, this church thing), those are the times when there’s something really, really valuable to learn.
I’ve learned that God is known in, through, and because of tension. Not a mad rush to judgment on one side or another…but in holding the tension like a handful of feathers.
I’ve learned in this dark space, that the people I get most upset with are the people I have the most in common with. Some are in their own dark space. Others refuse to enter it.
I’ve learned that if I want to be like Christ, I have to love those people. The ones that upset me. The ones I disagree with. The ones who I think need some darkness in their lives.
I’ve learned that “love” looks different in different situations, just like Christ.
I’ve learned a lot, but too much darkness is not good for the soul.
The best I can do (maybe the best anyone can do) is to speak (and write) as one who carries darkness like feathers, gentle reminders that tangible birds (which are symbols of hope) do fly through the wasteland.
We cannot force another into (or out of) their dark place. But we can encourage them to reach for the stars in the pitch-black sky .