Shadows

Good morning, Friends.

Last night I helped lead a worship service at our church which has come to mean a lot to me these days. It’s an ancient service called Tenebrae (Latin for darkness) which originated in the ninth century. Discontinued for a period and revived more recently, it focuses on the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, a dark time, a time of betrayal, denial and death, all of it symbolized by diminishing candlelight, so that at the end of the service, all that remains is a single candle, the light of Christ. Using the Gospel of Mark, each agonizing step, starting with Jesus’ arrest, is read. After each section is read, the choir and congregation sing lines from the spiritual, Were You There, which is beautiful in itself and has deep association for me.

It seems important to me now to recall what is referred to as the Passion of Christ because, first of all, it helps me to get my bearings as a human being, reminding me of what I’m capable of, that there is within me the same darkness, the same shadow life, depicted in Mark, that I, unawakened, could destroy what I love, could put to death the very source that brings me life and joy. Secondly, and most importantly, the Passion of Christ, is not the end of the story. The shaded part of my life is always seen now in context of the resurrection, of light breaking forth out of the darkness that has the power to save me from myself, that, in fact, because of that light, I have a new – and realistic – sense of who I truly am. Most of my experiences now, however dark, are seen as pathways to light, full of potential, sometimes filling me with sheer wonder. I can only think that what is going on here is the interplay of dark and light, each informing the other, until, ultimately, there’s only the illumined me, the illumined self. I must say, I cannot help but say, that I have never felt more grounded and excited, too, about what I’m discovering means not just for me but its implication for others.

I can hardly believe it’s taken so long to get here but, of course, I’m grateful that my journey has gotten me to the point where I’m now able to see myself – and others – in a new way.

Love always,  Bob

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