#LentWithESC – Day 23

Loving Darkness, Seeking Light

Written by Justin Rose

Life Together corps member

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

What does it mean to love darkness? To me, it’s when we capitulate to and propagate systems of oppression, either for short-term gain or out of fear. Human darkness hangs like a tattered rag over our planet. Loving darkness looks like investing countless millions of dollars into private prisons or weapons systems with the primary goal of destroying life. Loving darkness looks like using secret drugs to execute people on death row or wielding technology to explode the tops of mountains and poison surrounding communities, all in the name of Profit. Darkness is murdering difference, strangling subversive Love and nailing it to a cross. Often those with the most power cling to darkness the closest, but each of us quietly turns away from the light when we remain silent, perhaps unconsciously, in the face of such oppression, or when we do interpersonal violence that legitimizes larger systems. Many generations from now our descendants will judge us for how we have loved darkness. “How could they have been so blind?” they will ask. “How could they hold on to fear so tightly?” They will gaze back mournfully I am sure, just as we casually turn our critical gaze back at the blind wars of past millennia or even more recent evil. How do we turn this judgment into active reflection and change?

Despite the constant assault of images and stories that reflect our capacity for ignorance and terror, our tireless efforts to dismember our One Body, my paltry 24 years on this Earth, only a small fraction of which has been spent reflecting on such matters, have led me to believe in the innate loving goodness of human beings. The countless acts of love and joy I have witnessed through my work as a community organizer and the peaceful rhythms of life in my intentional, spiritual community at home handily confirm that belief. The darkness I observe I see stemming from the systems we have created, the systems that create us. But light actually exists all around us if we observe and listen carefully. This shouldn’t surprise us since the seed of light exists in us all. The darkness does not reflect our intrinsic worth, but it does demand a choice. We always have a choice to turn toward the light, to peer behind the black curtain that would keep us blind. This can be the hardest work because, first of all, many millions of us are already busy just surviving. And secondly, the invitation is to completely break open our hearts, to each other and–critically–to ourselves, and to carefully tend to what flows out, to nurture that freed spirit of life. That’s a monumental task. This light looks like being vulnerable, living in community, grappling with our fears, embracing joy, self-actualizing, and nonviolently organizing to change society. Our culture and institutions are apt at thwarting this sacred work. Imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy would rather encase our hearts in iron and bury them deep underground–a time capsule for never. However, when we prevail and choose love, as my time in the Life Together community has taught me, we reclaim the power to co-create and cultivate a world in the image of our Creator, whatever it may be to you, and become more fully alive.