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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

March 2012

~Seasons of Darkness, Seasons of Light~


My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.” ~Psalm 130:6


Dear Friends,


            How many songs from the 1980s bemoan the long, lonely hours of the night and the restless wait for morning?  I can think of at least two.  It seems to me that there are probably a few country songs that echo that sentiment, too, though I couldn’t say for sure.  And to step even further away from my field of knowledge, I believe there’s an old Broadway song in which a lonely cat sings heart-wrenching words about “memories, all alone in the moonlight,” and waiting for the morning.  Nighttime seems to amplify any illness or unrest that we’re carrying around.  It’s always in these late winter nights that my daughters develop the most painful, incessant coughs.  And there are certain thoughts that only occur to me at night, in those twilight moments just before sleep, or when sleep refuses to come: Are the doors locked?  Are the burners off?  News articles from the Post-Gazette will come to mind, causing me to wonder, “If I’m really so opposed to gun proliferation, why do I take secret comfort in having inherited my grandpa’s double barrel?”  Some memories, too, only sneak up on us at night.  Words and deeds that our daytime selves have forgotten; our nighttime selves cannot let them go.


            In a dense and rambling book about spiritual lethargy, Kathleen Norris writes:


            Both mental and physical pain are often worse at night, and sometimes it is the waiting for dawn that is worst of all.  The theologian Dorothée Soëlle, in her book Suffering, quotes the letters of a young Danish soldier who knew that he would soon be put to death by the Gestapo.  He had already been tortured, and this led him to identify with the agonies of Jesus on the cross.  But it was Gethsemane that drew him into ‘a new understanding of the figure of Jesus.  The time of waiting, that is the ordeal.’ 

            We do not know what will happen.  Disasters will strike, and great blessings will come. Our difficult and glorious task is to live through it all.  In Gethsemane…in that interminable night, waiting revealed itself as a true ally, a bulwark against fear.  And Jesus became the most radically free and dangerous man of all, the one who embodies hope in the face of death.  (Acedia & Me, Penguin Books, 2008)


            I’ve been savoring those two beautiful sentences: “Disasters will strike, and great blessings will come. Our difficult and glorious task is to live through it all.”  The Season of Lent is a pensive, introspective time.  In Lent, we admit to the inevitable Gethsemanes of the soul, those nighttime seasons of uncertainty, apprehension, anxious waiting.  But Lent offers rich hope to those who embrace its uncomfortable truths.  The secret joy of Easter is that it only holds meaning for those who’ve been “to dark Gethsemane.”    


            And how many of the world’s peoples today are waiting fretfully for the dawn of justice, or freedom, or peace to break upon them after long and restless years of night?  And how many of our own number find themselves in some Gethsemane of the soul?  Easter is silliness and folly to any but those who’ve spent a long night in the Garden.  Whatever season you are called to traverse, remember that in time, all the weary world rolls back round into the light.  Light!  It’s already drawing the daffodil’s leaves up through the snow.  Nothing can resist it.


Christ’s peace,