From a recent journal entry.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
The call comes—someone’s looking for a priest. Of course, you’re not a priest but you’re close enough. There’s been some trouble and someone wants to talk to a “holy man.” They want a man of God to come.
Someone’s in a desperate place—they’ve tried to take their life. It didn’t work but things still look pretty bleak and dark and hopeless and they’re really scared and they don’t know where to turn. They need to find a better place to live, a place where the terrifying images and the dark apparitions will just leave them alone for a while… A place where the evil people will stop abusing and using and dehumanizing them…. A place where they won’t have to be so damn afraid all the time…
So what will you say, man of God? When you walk through the door and you see their frightened face and the bandages covering the places where the blades left their mark? When you see the nervous fear and uncertainty mixed with expectation and guarded hope etched all over their face? When the desperation and confusion bleeds through strained conversation? When you have 45 short minutes punctuated by unexpected visitors and hushed consultations just outside the door to to speak into years of pain? What will you say?
What will you say, man of God, when you hear about years of abuse and torment and neglect? When you get the shards and fragments of a thousand little dark stories that have all conspired to lead a human life to this point where no human life should ever end up? Will you dig deep into your bag of theological tricks and find the right one for the job? Will you conjure up concepts like love and grace and free will and providence and redemption? Will you speak about how things happen for a reason? Do these words and these phrases fit in places like this? For people like this? What do you think, man of God?
What will you say, man of God, to someone who has heard so many lies about who they are and what they are worth that it seems like there’s no way in for the truth? When the truth seems impotent and small compared to the monstrous evils of a lifetime of deception and manipulation? What will it mean for you to tell them that God loves them when they have pounded on heaven’s door and gotten no response? What will it mean for you tell them that they are precious and valuable when all they have ever felt is worthless and abandoned? Does the truth work in a place like this, man of God?
What do you think, man of God? Can a world as wild and terrifying as ours—a world where wounded and discarded human treasures grope around in the darkness for glimmers of light and life—be a safe place for faith and hope and love to grow? Is there good enough news for stories like this? Can stories like this be part of the “all things” God is reconciling to himself?
What do you say, man of God?