Other Writings

We are…God knows, a people who walk in darkness. There seems little need to explain. If darkness is meant to suggest a world where nobody can see very well — either themselves, or each other, or where they are heading, or even where they are standing at the moment; if darkness is meant to convey a sense of uncertainty, of being lost, of being afraid; if darkness suggests conflict, conflict between races, between nations, between individuals all pretty much out for themselves when you come right down to it; then we live in a world that knows much about darkness. Darkness is what our newspapers are about. Darkness is what most of our best contemporary literature is about. Darkness fills the skies over our own cities no less than over the cities of our enemies. And in our single lives, we know much about darkness too. If we are people who pray, darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about. If we are people who do not pray, it is apt to be darkness in one form or another that has stopped our mouths.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “Come and See”

 

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I

This description of darkness sounds all too familiar to me.

I have an impulse to turn away from it, to not dwell on it lest it engulf me (as it has so many times).

I have a reluctance to admit how easily it can engulf me and for how long.

To be honest, I fear the depression it can bring on and how helpless I can feel in the throes of it.

I don’t want to risk feeling that dark, that hopeless, again.

II

God is Light.

Light doesn’t turn away from darkness.

It pierces it and exposes everything in it.

It looks into every corner to find what might be lost, to nourish what might be starving, to bring order where there is disorder, to give sight where there is blindness.

The darkness does not taint it, does not overcome it.

Light feels anguish at what it finds in the dark; anguish that breaks the heart and sweats blood.

Anguish is Love encountering the beloved in darkness; Light suffers anguish because the beloved is worth it.

Light, because of its anguish, brings warmth and hope and joy to the one engulfed in darkness.

III

God in me, with me, is that Light.

God in us, with us – Immanuel! – is that Light, doing even greater things through us, the many, who are following Him, the One.

The land once covered in darkness has seen a great light.

The land now covered in darkness can see a great light – if I, if we, follow the One in not turning away from it.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Grace and peace to you…

dw

Supernatural hope is the virtue that strips us of all things in order to give us possession of all things.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

We’ve had a theme of sorts running for a good bit of this year on Thomas Merton’s reflections on what love is and isn’t. We’ll be switching now to the topic of hope. As we’ll see, hope may not be anything like we’d expect it to be, today’s quote being a jarring example. Merton will push us to examine our hearts in ways that maybe we haven’t before:

  • What do we hope for?
  • What do we hope in?
  • What does this mean for our soul?
  • What does hope that is good for us look like, feel like?
  • What does it accomplish in us and in God’s kingdom?
  • Do we have reason to hope for this kind of hope?

I sincerely hope this series is something you can connect with, something that speaks to you where you are and challenges you and gives you maybe a hope that’s been missing for awhile or maybe that you can’t remember ever having before.

Grace and peace…and hope…to you…

dw

p.s. Here’s a listing of some past posts on the topic of Love:

 

 

To love another is to will what is really good for him. Such love must be based on truth. A love that sees no distinction between good and evil, but loves blindly merely for the sake of loving, is hatred, rather than love. To love blindly is to love selfishly, because the goal of such love is not the real advantage of the beloved but only the exercise of love in our own souls.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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And if he is the truth and the life, we will find it out soon enough for ourselves, you can be sure of that. If we want to find it out, if we are willing to draw near in whatever idiotic way we can, all our reservations and doubts notwithstanding, because little by little we find out then that to be where he is, to go where he goes, to see through eyes and work with hands like his is to feel like ourselves at last, is to become fully ourselves at last and fully each other’s at last, and to become finally more even than that: to become fully his at last.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Sign by the Highway”

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What is the truth? It is not the answer to any question that we know how to ask. Can there be a truth that saves, can there be salvation, for those who have learned of life not to believe in salvation? Only on the other side of pain…the pained embarrassment at the words Jesus Saves, which at its heart is a pained embarrassment at our own nakedness and incompleteness…pain that brought tears to the eyes…of hope betrayed…the pain of the good thief, which is the pain of surrender, the pain of acknowledging finally our utter helplessness to save ourselves.”

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Sign by the Highway”

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