Shining in a Dark Place.
There is a light shining in the darkness. However dark it feels, however much Covid seems as if it will affect our lives forever, however often you feel you’re wrong or stupid, however much you’re hiding away from yourself, and trying to hide from God, however much shame you hold, however much grief you bear, however much anger you feel …. whatever it is that creates your darkness, however overwhelming it may feel: there is a light shining in that dark place that can never be overcome. You may not know it, you may not feel it, but it is there, shining. It can be so easy so lose sight of: we are only too aware of our own failings, we may not be as aware of our good points, we can look out at the world and see - well, the news tends to be more negative than positive. It can be so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of our daily lives – and those minutiae are important – but lose sight of the presence of God here among us, God at the heart of you and me, God at the heart of all that is happening, whether we can see it or not. God has come into the world and lived amongst us, the light is here shining, and however dark it becomes, however dark it feels, that light is never extinguished, never overcome.
Of course, there are sometimes reasons for the darkness that we need human help with; sometimes, help is needed in our darkness, whether that be a spiritual director, a counsellor, a financial advisor, a doctor’s visit, or maybe a chat with a good friend. Whatever helps in our particular circumstances; in an emergency, a phone call to the Samaritans might help [www.samaritans.org, 116 123]. We are not alone, ever, however much it might feel that way: God is with us, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. There will be times for all of us when we need another human presence with us in our dark times; that, too, can be the presence of God.
Picture a candle shining in the dark; a light, fragile, but shining pushing back the dark.
Picture that light shining within you, the Holy Spirit’s presence, pushing back the dark, the presence of God’s light and love within – within not only you, but all those others who also follow God. Small lights shining in the dark, that we cannot always see or realise, but are there, shining, in your village, town or city; in your county, nation, continent; in other continents of our world. Sometimes those lights are shining brightly, well –known: Archbishop Desmond Tutu comes to mind. Others are unknown, except to those around them, sometimes unseen even to them.
Our own Community is a case in point. Some Sisters resound down the years: M. Lavinia, M. Flora, Sr Amy and others. We know something about them, and how they lived. In M. Lavinia’s case, her surviving letters tell us about her faith. Sr Amy was one of the first three Sisters to go over to Canada, and also worked at various houses in Ditchingham. We know how her work was appreciated. However, there are others we know little about: Sr Bertha died at the age of 32, less than ten years after joining the Community. She was professed on the same day as her birth sister, Sr Amy, and I think she worked in the hospital.
Sr Patience was a lay Sister: I have found her in several census forms, and I know she was at the Orphanage at one point, and at the Community House [Convent] later in her life. What I don’t know is exactly what she did (except that as a lay sister she would have done more practical work), and I know nothing about her faith. For some Sisters we have tributes written about them after their deaths that tell us how they were missed; for others we have little more than names. Yet all these Sisters were servants of God, were lights shining; they weren’t perfect, and some were no doubt difficult to live with (indeed, I know the names of some, whom older Sisters remember...). They had their dark times, and their light times.
What did Sr Amy feel, to lose her older sister at 32, only about 6 years after her father’s death? I think she would have been in Canada at the time, and may not even have been able to attend the funeral; indeed, may not have known until it was all over, given the communications at the time. How did the Community feel after M. Lavinia, our foundress, died? It would have been a formative moment for the Community.
But this isn’t about the Community as such, merely using us an example of light shining, whether we know it or not. You may be able to see how other people have been a light shining for you; maybe there are times when you have seen how God is shining. Whether you can or not, the light is shining, through our dark times and our good times. The light is shining, as God came to dwell here among us; the light is shining through the work of the Holy Spirit among us; the light is shining, as we journey in our faith; the light is shining, and the darkness cannot overcome it.