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Is It Dark Outside? A Good Friday Reflection

April 22, 2011

Are you experiencing some dark in your life now? You may find yourself in the mood for Good Friday. One of the blessings of Holy Week is the opportunity to move through a progression which we all experience in our lives: from hope to confusion to despair to a deeper, more profound hope. We experience this as individuals and as communities. The church on these days enacts this. On Good Friday, we walk with Jesus and his disciples, male and female, through hours of despair and death.

It's tempting to leap to Easter. In my growing-up we didn't pay too much attention to Good Friday. There were no crucifixes in the churches of my youth.

However, if you've lived into adulthood you have known dark moments. What do you do with those times? How do you live through them? Most of us have wondered, like Jesus on the cross, where God is in that moment. Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakenings, tells the story of enduring the miserable aftermath of his first chemotherapy treatment. His wife asked just that question, "Where is God?" He says, "And from some unknown place in me, through my pale slouched form, I uttered, 'Here...right here.'" He adds, "The presence of God has never eliminated pain, only made it more bearable." (p. 134)

I believe that God is most profoundly present in the moment. The task, even in the dark, is to pay attention: to breathing. To the sense of your feet on floor. To the blessings that are available to you right now. The more you can focus on the concrete present, the less you are caught up in your fear of what's next. There might be a gift, if you can pay attention enough to receive it.

I hate to admit it, but I've learned more from dark times than from light ones. The moment my family is in right now as my mother fades away mentally and physically is a deeply painful one. But it's also rich with opportunity for connection with her, in the moment, which is about all she has. She's contented almost all the time. She is my teacher, and I'm grateful.

What have you learned from the dark times? What are you noticing now, if you are in a dark period? What do you notice today, Good Friday?

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