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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Light and Darkness, Bless the Lord

A week ago, a friend gave me a small tomato plant. I objected, considering that I only get sun for part of the day, and don't have a green thumb. She pointed  out that it was otherwise going to die anyway; why not see if it would bear fruit for me?  If it dies, no loss. 

So I took the plastic cup containing the plant and placed it in the window of my kitchen, planning to purchase potting soil and a much larger pot for it.  

It's been fascinating this week watching this little plant follow the sun.  As the rays land on it, it stretches upward to greet the light, soaking in as much as it can.  As the sun moves, so does the plant, straining to catch every little bit.  

A few years ago a friend who had been a florist told me that flourescent lights can be good for plants, so in a house that gets only partial sun, it may be a way to give the plants what they need.  
Due to this advice, I've been placing my dying aloe plants under the light, and the tomato plant as clos as I can get it.  (The large pot doesn't fit directly under the light).  The same phenomena has been happening as that little plant has been leaning hard over to absorb the light of the flourescent.  

At first I thought it was wilting, but when I looked more closely, I could see the movement was very much directed, very much a part of what this plant is all about.  It needs light to survive and grow.  

It's so ironic that when I got the plant, it was sunny and warm, but the rest of the week has been cold and rainy. Yesterday there was some sunlight, but not enough, and it was too cool to put the plant outside; besides, I fear the ducks and rabbits will attack it!  And so I've been doing my best to keep it alive, providing a source of light, even if that light is not ideal. 

Maybe it's providential that this plant has come into my possession.  Right now I'm in a sort of darkness, unable to see anything.  I can't even see the light that I know is there.  I have doubts about my faith, doubts about God, everything. I look around the shambles of my life and think, "Is this all there is?

Because if it is, this is totally not worth it. 

But I know...there has to be something. There has to be more.  And when I got to Mass, and Christ is lifted up, I can't deny that my heart burns within me, and even as I doubt, the other part of my tortured soul cries out "I believe!" 

This passing darkness doesn't mean anything.  It's just a shadow that has fallen over me, and sometimes in shadows our vision grows stronger and allows us to see even more. And sometimes it only seems like we're in darkness because the light of God is so blinding. 

I do not mean to compare this to St. John of the Cross's dark night; I have not achieved that level of holiness.  So many misunderstand the dark night; they think if they're depressed or sad or experiencing dryness in prayer, it's a dark night. They think if God is far from them, it's a dark night. 

No, it's not. 

St. John's dark night was FILLED with God. It wasn't a darkness; God was so close that he was blinded by the light. The dark night is filled with joy, not misery and depression.  

Right now, I am not experiencing joy.  It's not a dark night.   It's a passing shadow and from the depths of this shadow I am like that little plant, reaching for the light I know must be there, because if it's not, I would wither and die.  And that's not how this story ends.  

I really hope that plant doesn't die because right now I need a visible metaphor. 

And maybe stronger coffee. 
Night and days, bless the Lord
Light and darkness, bless the Lord
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.