I sure wish the stones wobbled, the suits of armor leaned, the catatonic sideboard sloped until the roughly hewn candle slid off its face.
I sure wish it were 1523.
It seemed like it last week, when the Catholic Church expelled an innocent youth from one of its schools for being the child of a lesbian couple.
Ok, perhaps I don’t wish it were 1523. But in some ways—in the ways impotence in the face of disease, squalor, and poverty threw one into the arms of God. And the world lived by extremes; dark times call us to paint brilliant pictures of light.
And I so love dark times, and I so relish beating them against the light like a cat o’ nine tails. How more stark the contrast than one Jesus of Nazareth, whipped bloody and flesh-eaten by spiked whips in a centurion’s hand?
Now, now, remember the temple talks, the sidelong glances, the bread in dramatic fashion blessed and passed. Remember that, I say to me—Jesus did away with darks and lights. Just light, he said.
Well here’s the trouble, JC: How do we know light unless we spend some time in darkness, hmm? After all, it’s to our benefit to maintain suffering and dying and depravation and the like. Why, without these most despicable things, we’d be out on the street! Talk about taking the light for granted. We do it to recognize its blessing.
No—now I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no. Just no. I don’t care how idealistic you are, it’s just not going to happen. Light for light’s sake? Know light of its own virtue? Why, what is virtue any way without vice? There, you see? Futile. Empty. Absolutely ridiculous.
Yes, I just called the Son of God ridiculous. I’m sure he’s used to it by now—he’s been called much worse, after all. Must pale compared to a crucifixion. Nails, hanging, people staring and spitting their spite. Fabulous choice, Caesar. Truly humiliating. The dark of the dark. All in your name.
Ah, now wait a tick. It’s possible I’ve just confused myself. We … crucified …. Jesus. Right, then. God gave Jesus new life. Indeed. So, light comes from God, dark comes from … us? What is that, then? Just doing our part, enabling the resurrection? Give us a pat on the back, then, what’d’ya say?
Facilitators of darkness for the preservation of light. Now that’s humanity in a mission statement. I’ll stick to writing about the business; I’m not much good at killing and torturing anyway. Just a verse or two, a quick limerick. It makes it easier to remember.
Remember that we crucified him. Back to that, eh? Yes, well it still doesn’t make sense, does it? We crucify him to perpetuate the darkness to enable light which ultimately gives us the good gift of salvation? Why it’s like leading your mom to the toy section of the department store the day before your birthday. Nope, nope, I won’t have that. It’s too infantile. Pre-meditated salvation? I hardly give us that kind of credit.
And anyway, if we did believe in all that, we would have known wood crosses hardly taint the work of a transcendent carpenter. A builder is a builder; he builds with bits of twig and broken rocks, if that’s all that’s allowed. Still, crosses. An ironic end.
Back to 1523. Oh, it’s not so much I love the plague and Latin and gilded cathedrals, but probably more that it’s easier for me to see the light in darkness. I don’t want much to do with it, just to write about it. To remind us what the light is all about.
Trouble is, I can’t help but believing there really is no darkness. We just like to think there is because we can’t stand the light to be everything at all.
I mean, how on earth would we apologize for not seeing something?