Thursday, May 21, 2015

Walking on the Dark Side

I have just finished Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark, a beautifully written book that at the same time heals and scares the heck out of me.  I believe that it is meant to do that.  She reminds me that I can depend on nothing, not even God, for certainty when I so long for it.  After
all, what is faith for if not to give us some sense that we are ‘right with God’ when everything else in our lives is going haywire?  Taylor goes way beyond my comfort level inviting me into the ‘darkness’ [sic.].  What she really does is invite me into my fears to examine them, become familiar with their terrifying hold and allows me to relax in their tenuous hold on me so that their bonds begin to fail.  It is an amazing process but not for the faint in heart. 

I have not written much over the past 12 months.  I have been embroiled in some up close and personal events in my life.  As those who have followed this blog over the years know, I have had a life-long acquaintance with depression.  But if there is one thing that I am sure of, this experience has not been depression.  Like Taylor, I am knowledgeable enough to know that John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul is far too dramatic to call this ride. But the gloom I have
lived the past 10 months has been an alleyway that I don't wish on others.  It has been a walk with the Holy in ways that I would never have guessed or wanted.  I am not yet finished with this path, but I am being moved to speak of this passage simply because the Gospel cannot be kept within. 

I have been told that if I value my priesthood, I should be quiet.  I have been told that ‘people are not ready for the truth I speak’.  I have also heard that ‘the other side will use what I say against us’.  But all of this is fear of others who will not enter their own terror.  It paralyzes and heightens the anxiety rather than allows a passage through it to the embrace of healing and the liberation of the soul. 

Spoken journeys are the paths through the apprehension that keeps frozen the heart that longs to deepen its relationship with God.  Ask any therapist or spiritual director.  Fear is the stuff that keep us imprisoned, locked in the dungeons of our hearts and minds. 

The Gospel is that which releases us from the constraints of social conventionality and points us toward the Truth of the Universal Path of the Holy One.  I find in those who have marked this journey the courage ‘to live lives worthy of their calling’.
As one who still appreciates the name ‘Christian’ and refuses to allow the dogmatic fundamentalists to define the term, my Christianity demands action.  I cannot just be quiet like the benign soul
who smiles at the preacher on Sunday and says ‘good sermon’ even though they can’t remember what was said.  My baptism demands a boldness in faith that cannot be hidden.