Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here Among the Shadows

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -- John 1:5

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” – Luke 11:34-36

In a simpler time, someone said that light floods the whole universe and darkness is naught but shadows.  Given the vast distances of interstellar space, there may be places where the visible spectrum of light is weak and fades.  Our sun is on a wing of the Milky Way’s pinwheel.  Closer to the center of the galaxy we would not be able to see through the night for the abundance of neighboring stars. 

Darkness serves as an appropriate symbol for evil.  Evil, like darkness, is derivative and situational.  Good, like light, is transcendent, absolute and universal.  Here on earth, night occurs when we are in the planet’s shadow.  The sun never sets.  The light is never extinguished.  Darkness has not overcome light.  Evil comes to us like the night, a shadow falling upon us as we go our way.   As shade can exist only because the sun is shining, so the darkness in our lives can exist only because God is Good, all the time. 

Our tendency is to say that evil comes upon us, to see it as having an independent and external source, and there are certainly those who seem to embrace evil, acting upon it and propagating it.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). 

“This present darkness” – surely this means crime in the streets, corruption, injustice, oppression, tyranny, wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, disease, famine, and so on and on.  That’s certainly how it manifests.  Should I then become a crusader, prohibitionist, preacher, revolutionary, or vigilante?

 I could start by getting the darkness out of myself, lighting the lamp of my spirit.  It is all too often my own self that casts the long, dark shadow in my own life. 

The trouble with saying something is that so much can’t be said and then there is that which should not be said.  It’s like walking on a ledge, no room on one and too much on the other. 

Evil will not go away because we ignore it or deny it.  It is not just “in our heads”.  It was almost seventy degrees here yesterday and will be over seventy today.  There is still a pile of sleet and snow alongside my driveway and right under my window because it is the north side and shaded most of the day.  There was so much still piled up under the window yesterday that my thermometer was reading a good ten degrees colder than all the “official” temperatures around.  The shadow of my house preserved the ice, and the ice, in turn, suppressed the air temperature above it.  For a while it didn’t occur to me why my thermometer – which is usually about right – was so far off. 

Just because evil is a shadow does not mean it is not real, and that it does not have real, objective, observable effects.  Checking just now, I’m still about four degrees cooler because of the ice.  I have my door open and the storm door screen open.  I’m reading 61 degrees on the inside and 57 outside – over the ice.  The official temperature reported a few miles away is almost 63. 

We can understand evil, find out why it is here.  Come summer, when the rays of the sun strike here more directly, there will be no shadow on this wall.  It faces a little east of north, and the sun rising early heats the bricks like an oven.  Evil is not eternal, not permanent.  It is a temporary condition of the season we find ourselves in.  Sometimes the bad things that befall us are correctives, the shadows falling to show us where we need to change, what we must let go of.  

There are those who say that if we are sufficiently enlightened within, we can banish the shadows of evil entirely.  I would agree that we may be free of the effects of evil in ourselves.  It is possible to dispel the darkness from my own heart, and that I ought to seek to do. 


Rick said...

"I would agree that we may be free of the effects of evil in ourselves. It is possible to dispel the darkness from my own heart, and that I ought to seek to do."

What does a believer believe if he doesn't believe this.
Plus, it may be like approaching the speed of light. ie the toughest sins are the last to go. Grip like an SOB. Me, I wouldn't know, still spinnin my tires in the basics. Like Joe Pescie in My Cousin Vinnie.

Good post, Mush.
And the previous one.

Rick said...


(Sorry Joe)

mushroom said...

Yes, the speed of light or speed of sound is a good way to think about it. The closer we get to full enlightenment, the more turbulence and resistance we encounter.

julie said...

Yes, what Rick said™