Word for Word 1/25/17
The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 9, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’
This bit of scripture was written to give hope to a nation that was in a state of turmoil and duress, a state that many might say our nation is in currently. Sometimes though we look at this prophetic writing and decide that it’s an either or. Either there is light in our lives or there is darkness. Either I am living into the light (and being ‘good’) or I am living into the darkness (and being ‘bad’).
Thomas Lloyd Qualls has a quote in Waking Up at Rembrandt’s that says, “Believing you are good is like believing in the half moon.”
I love this quote because it demonstrates how insane it actually is to deny aspects of ourselves and others. The other half of the moon is always there, even when we can’t see it. At the very least, this denial of the darkness within ourselves or the light that is within others can create a low-level intolerance of each other; but at its worst, it’s the source of all the acute interpersonal anger, violence, hate, and oppression we’re experiencing as a society.
Truth is: we are all a little bit of everything - light and dark - and even though we don’t always present certain aspects of our nature, we still contain them. Which means that when we respond to folks that take a different stance on an issue… any issue - in judgment and righteous indignation - we might hurt them (might is the key word) but we always hurt ourselves.
Looking back at the prophet’s words as we journey forward as a community and as a nation, I hope that we can have our vision widened, instead of narrowing. Have our hearts opened, instead of shutting down and closing off. I hope that we can see more light in the world around us while still understanding that the whole of each of us, the whole of our community, the whole of our nation and of our world has an imperfect, yet luminous glow.
Pastor Samantha Houser
Zion United Church of Christ, Waukon