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Light in the Darkness – A Reflection

March 8, 2020
Mount Meeker from Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center in Allenspark, Colorado

It has been a full day all around. It began with presenting initial protocols to the church as we prepare for any potential COVID-19 cases in our Mountain Town. I am so thankful for all the work Denise did to assist me with research so that I could write the protocols. I am also so very thankful for the retired and active medical people who have agreed to assist and advise as we move forward.

Frankly this experience took me back to my Air Force days when we would spend days building contingency plans for all sorts of disasters and potential outbreaks. In 21 years we rarely had to implement such plans other than major crashes, suicides, and post-September 11th where we had to actually build a defense plan instead of simulating it. The only one that I never experienced was the biological response.

Tonight was a delightful dinner and program at our Presbytery’s Camp and Retreat Center. After we got home, we both had to walk through a potential suicidal ideation call with someone via Facebook Messenger. Today I think I have had too many flashbacks as has Denise. However, it has been a matter of processing and moving through the difficulties rather than sinking into panic or becoming overwhelmed.

Funny how things intersect in the midst of life’s challenges. In the brief period between the dinner and the call, I was able to read a bit from Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine by Susan McCaslin and JS Porter. In the section I was reading they were discussing Merton and prayer during times of darkness.

In Merton’s book Cold War Letters, the subject was prayer in a time of darkness. This particular quote from the introduction really gave me food for thought as I begin to process the day’s events. “Merton knew prayer takes many forms… his Cold War Letters were a form of praying in darkness, a search for light with the companions he addressed, in a night of the spirit when everything seemed lost.” — James W. Douglas, Forward, Cold War Letters by Thomas Merton (p. xvi)

The subject of prayer in times of light and darkness have been a source of much contemplation for me. As I imagine Merton praying and spending time in silence and contemplation around the Cold War, I can’t help but wonder what he would say today if we were to sit at table over a cup of coffee.

His advice to me was found in a letter he wrote to Rabbi Zalman Schachter on December 15, 1961. He shared with the Rabbi this thought about prayer in a time of darkness: “And in the political dark, I light small, frail lights about peace and hold them up in the whirlwind. (The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 534)

I can almost hear Merton offering this same hope and advice to me. It reminds me of John 1:5 — The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Perhaps that is the advice and challenge for us in these days where darkness creeps across the land. May we do just as Merton did himself almost 60 years ago.

One Comment
  1. “Life is Like a Bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.”

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