The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side. ~G. K. Chesterton
…our hands have always been able to heal as much as harm. …since the dawn of humanity, each of us contains three people— the angel, the demon, and the one who decides which we will obey.
It shouldn’t take plunging into a profound darkness,
swallowed in a pit of sadness and sorrow
to experience God’s immense capacity for love and compassion,
but that is when our need for light and forgiveness is greatest.
It should not take sin and suffering to remind us
life is precious and worthy of our protection,
no matter how tempted we are to choose otherwise.
We are created,
from the beginning,
in the beginning,
with the capacity to choose sides between darkness and light
and we choose too often to be cloaked in darkness.
Our God chooses to shine the light of His Creation,
to conquer our darkness through illuminating grace,
dispersing our shadows,
suffering the deepest darkness on our behalf
to guarantee we are eternally worthy of His loving protection.
How then shall we choose when He so clearly chooses us?
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
We are given a chance to change the direction we are heading. When we are going head-long into the biggest potholes of life, especially those we have created ourselves, then time has come to turn around. If we ignore all the signs that make clear the dangers ahead, we’ll end up bruised and bashed instead of blooming.
May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand. He prepares me with parable.
When a man thinks happily, he finds no foot-track in the field he traverses. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson from “Quotation and Originality”
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back…
~Robert Frost from “The Road Not Taken”
Two lonely cross-roads that themselves cross each other I have walked several times this winter without meeting or overtaking so much as a single person on foot or on runners. The practically unbroken condition of both for several days after a snow or a blow proves that neither is much travelled. Judge then how surprised I was the other evening as I came down one to see a man, who to my own unfamiliar eyes and in the dusk looked for all the world like myself, coming down the other, his approach to the point where our paths must intersect being so timed that unless one of us pulled up we must inevitably collide. I felt as if I was going to meet my own image in a slanting mirror. Or say I felt as we slowly converged on the same point with the same noiseless yet laborious stride as if we were two images about to float together with the uncrossing of someone’s eyes. I verily expected to take up or absorb this other self and feel the stronger by the addition for the three-mile journey home. But I didn’t go forward to the touch. I stood still in wonderment and let him pass by; and that, too, with the fatal omission of not trying to find out by a comparison of lives and immediate and remote interests what could have brought us by crossing paths to the same point in a wilderness at the same moment of nightfall. Some purpose I doubt not, if we could but have made out. I like a coincidence almost as well as an incongruity. ~Robert Frost from “Selected Letters”
“I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.” ~Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk
Some doors in our lives remain forever closed and locked. No key, no admittance, no way in, no way out. There is clarity in a locked door with no choices to be made. If there is a choice and I’m unsure of what I should decide, I tend to run scared.
The locked door is an invitation with the potential to change everything when the key is handed to me. I now must make a choice, even if the choice is to do nothing.
Do I lose the key and stay put where things are at least familiar?
Do I knock and politely wait for the door to be answered?
Do I simply wait for the moment it happens to open, take a peek and decide whether or not to enter?
Or do I boldly put the key in and walk through?
The choice to be made is as plain as the key resting in my trembling hand.
When I approach, drawn to the mystery, the door is already standing open.
For unto us a child is born, a son is given.
He is the threshold between two worlds, the unlocking love that allows us to throw away the key.
I can grumble with the best of the them. There can be camaraderie in shared grumbling, as well as an exponential increase in dissatisfaction as everyone shares their misery. Some relationships are based on collaborative cynicism, dark humor and just plain complaining. Whole TV series and movies have featured this approach to life– i.e. “House”.
But I know better. I’ve seen where grousing leads and I feel it aching in my bones when I’m steeped in it. The sky is grayer, the clouds are thicker, the night is darker–on and on to its overwhelming suffocating conclusion.
I have the privilege to choose joy, to turn away from the bleak. I can find the single ray of sun and stand in it, absorbing and equipping myself to be radiant when others need it more than me. It is not putting on a “happy face” — instead joy adopts me, holds me close in the tough times and won’t abandon me. Though at times joy may be temporarily behind a cloud, I know it is there even when I can’t see it.