“Night signifies that which comes upon us and takes us out of our own control; [but] it announces that as the place of resurrection.” ~ Rev. Iain Matthew
Even though it is Spring, and the weather has turned lovely with crisp azure skies dappled with fluffy clouds above a backdrop of evergreening mountains, in my brain, it feels like 4:00 a.m. all the time.
For those of you who are not addicts or alcoholics, 4:00 a.m. used to be the witching hour, the darkest point of the night for us. It is that point when we had run out of drugs and alcohol, the bars were closed, and the liquor stores were hours away from opening and the decent of buzz despair would begin.
But if have never felt that experience, then sit in your current feelings when they are most overwhelming – that is the 4:00 a.m. experience. Now my days are peppered with 4:00 a.m. moments, and when they are not 4:00 a.m. moments, they still feel like some point of nighttime, whether dusk, midnight, 4:00 a.m., or the inklings of dawn.
I know it is overwhelming for many people. It feels so overwhelming for me. So, in this time, in these moments, I try and write my way to a place of hope for hope is what we need, maybe more so than anything else and we need a hope that can be shared among us and passed around like good bread.
Hope is not optimism. In fact, I find Pollyannaish optimism to be saccharine and full of bull shit. It is not based in or on reality; that is why optimism is not to be confused with hope. Hope is based fully in reality. Hope is not just a feeling; hope is an action and an attitude.
So, I strive for hope; hope to keep me going, hope to reach outside of myself and help others in some way. Hope reminds me that “what I resist will persist.” For hope to take hold, for healing to take hold, it must be based on the acceptance of what actually is (happening), not what I wish would be happening.
In my words and experience, hope and healing are symbiotic partners in this pandemic, and we all need a bit of both.
Hope says, “yes I am overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness and aloneness; yes I am scared for family, my ever emptying bank account, my growling belly. Hope does not run from these truths. But hope says you may feel and be out of control, but the control you do have is your response. And the first response I can control is my perspective. And hope helps me find another perspective, one that heals and helps not paralyzes. Hope and healing tell that solitude is a practice while loneliness is a feeling and aloneness is a situation. Hope tells me I am indeed in this and that it all feels like shit, like perpetual night.
But hope challenges me not to run from the “night’ness” of my days, but to practice shifting my perspective. So, I try and see the night’ness we are all living through as a tool for removing the illusions of control. As the opening quote says, the night takes us from a place of control to a place of powerlessness which then can become a place of resurrection. Yes, resurrection and transformation. I said it. In the night we being to learn that in the darkness is where resurrection begins. And resurrection is that place where God and my despair and pain and fear all meet and weave themselves together.
Hope is the tool I use to find this God who heals in darkness; who offers us hope in the night’ness of our days. This God who is to be found just as easily in darkness and nighttime as in daylight and pleasantries is present everywhere. So, I try and embrace the solitude, the aloneness, and the loneliness and in those spaces hoping I too can experience something Divine.
My hope is that we will all find some sense of the Divine in these moments of confusion, hopelessness, and dread. That we will begin to wield hope like a tool to be used rather than a feeling to be expressed. It is my hope that you will find hope in the darkness and in so doing that you may experience and know this truth: that grasping for hope in the darkness and reaching out for a God who is with us and heals us in the night and the darkness is indeed a scandalous act for those of us who live in perilous times.