Finding the light in the darkness
January is dark. It is dark in a big way. Corners of our homes and neighborhoods are no longer warmed by the glimmer of Christmas lights. We leave in the morning, and it is dark. We return at the end of the day, and it is still dark. And even though post Winter Solstice promises a couple of additional minutes of light each day, it doesn’t seem to add up very quickly in January. Darkness also seems to make our burdens heavier. As we bury dearest of friends and family, learn of new illnesses, addictions or lost jobs, face the effects of violence and the concerns of a precarious economy, our hearts can become lost in the shadows. That is, until we find the path to the light.
In this week’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah proclaims that "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."
We know that light. It is the light of God’s love revealed at the Epiphany, first to the three Kings, and then to us. It is the light of our faith. Especially powerful is that we know that light collectively. Isaiah doesn’t say "a person walked in darkness and saw the light," but rather, the people did. A group, a community, a family walked together through the struggles and fears helping each other to see the hope his light can bring.
How often when we hear tales of tragedy do we also hear people say, "But there were so many God moments," so many graces? We cannot see that grace if we remain in the dark. We see the grace because we know how loved we are by God and that he will give us the strength, courage and companions to find the light again.
As Jesuit Father Larry Gillick reminded us in his Creighton online ministries Daily Reflection earlier in January, Jesus "has come to be seen within the darkness of our doubts and of our fears of what might be around the next corner of our days."
So often, Jesus does come to those dark corners in the form of friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners and, many times, strangers, who seem to literally come out of the woodwork to bring goodness.
We know these stories: the neighbors who harvest the fields for the seriously injured farmer; the women who bring food and the items that only they could know will bring comfort to the newly diagnosed breast cancer patient; the community that gathers on the corner for the prayer vigil to hold up the mother whose son was murdered. These people have walked to come together through the darkness in order to bring God’s light to those who are frozen in their fear and pain.
Yes, January is dark. But we have seen the great light and know its loving power. May we, as individuals and community, be selfless stewards of that light and bring it to the shadowy corners of those who desperately need its warmth and hope in their hearts.
Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.