By Doug Harrison
This week’s readings seem almost more like Advent readings than Lenten ones. There is all of this talk about light: How God is our light and how the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. It sorta feels like December, when we are all about the candles, colored strands, and weird reindeer shaped wire lawn figures. Light is a nice word, a friendly word, a word worth cutting out of styrofoam and covering in glitter, like “joy,” “peace,” and “candy.” Light feels good.
Well, except at 6:45 in the morning standing in front of the bathroom mirror when I am trying to pry my eyes open and address the rat’s nest on the top of my head. It is amazing what a mess you can make out of very little hair with a couple pillows and just the right amount of drool. [Very pretty.] And every single morning I scare myself witless with just how unpresentable I can make myself just by laying down and closing my eyes. In these first few moments of my day, light does not always feel like my friend. It really only irritates me for a few seconds before I begin to reassemble my seemingly natural good looks, but boy-o-boy those first few seconds in the morning light are sometimes enough to make me want to stay in bed.
Sure, I know light is good, but if I am honest, I don’t always love what the light does.
There are two things that are always simultaneously true about the light of God’s love: One, it reveals things for what they really are and two, it heals. The real power of God’s love in our lives is lost when we lose sight of either those things.
Sometimes we think about God’s love, or even God, only as a nice word, appropriate for the holidays, like it is something sweet to be cut out and covered in glitter. In thinking of God this we way we often never let God into the parts of our lives where God can do the most good, where we need God most.
Other times it can be easy to lay in the darkness knowing that what the light is going to reveal is going to be ugly, uncomfortable, and maybe even hurt a little. When we only think about God this way, we tend to stay in bed, avoid being honest with ourselves and each other, little by little begin to avoid God altogether.
Sin, someone wise once told me, is an awful lot like athlete’s foot, it gets worse in dark and enclosed spaces. This week in our Lenten journey, we are reminded of both aspects of God’s love which are simultaneously true: It reveals, and it heals. Perhaps this week we might be able to turn to someone who knows a little something about the love of God and tell them a truth that needs to be brought into the light. Maybe this week it is time to make an appointment with one of the priests (who are obligated to offer grace and keep their mouths shut) and say something that needs to be said about ourselves. If any of that is even too much, perhaps you might just find yourself standing in front of God, being as honest with one’s self as one might look in a mirror, knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing, is revealed any sooner than it has also begun to be healed. May God be your light.