BY SR. MARY MCHALE, CCVI
About a year after the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, I was part of a group that gathered monthly with people from different tribes to share our experiences of that tragic time and how it had influenced our lives. As we neared the end of these Conversations for Social Change, we were given homework to do. We were asked to get up very early long before the sun rose and sit outside in the dark. We were to notice when the darkness turned to light — that sharing was the most healing of all our gatherings!
During this past year, darkness has manifested itself in varied ways which has affected all of us. The Pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide, the refusal of some people to accept that the Covid-19 virus even exists, and their lack of cooperation with the necessary precautions looms darkly; over half a million people have died in the USA alone. Here also in the United States racial hatred and prejudice have taken a new turn. Months of tension prior to the presidential election and the violence that followed the election is still very much alive. The effects of climate change worldwide is causing permanent damage to Mother Earth and the poorest people; here in Texas in mid-February we experienced extreme weather changes as a consequence of human behavior; there has been a lot of darkness.
As we journey through Lent and Holy Week towards Easter, I thought of the richness of the gift of faith that has helped us during these dark times. We look forward to the opportunity for the Renewal of our Baptismal Promises. We will recommit ourselves to living more deeply in the Paschal Way.
We received a lighted candle lit from the Paschal candle when we were baptized — a powerful symbol telling us that we now share in the life of Christ. John Moriarty said of the Paschal Candle: “Wounded in its wax, wounded in its wick, wounded in its light, having the Passion of Christ in it and having thereforethe woundedness of the world in it. This candle is present at our baptism, going before us and guiding us in time, and again it will be there at our coffin, going before us and guiding us into eternity.” May we not only walk behind this light and let it find a way through the darkness for us; may we become willing, if wounded, the Light of Christ in the world.
In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Taylor Brown says: “New life starts in the dark, whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.” What has happened to our inner selves during this year of darkness? Is new life beginning to stir within us?
Note: The quote from John Moriarty, an Irish philosopher, poet, writer, and mystic, is from a retreat he gave in the 1990’s. He died in 2017.