I have not written this Blog since Easter. My silence began because I was invited to give a series of talks in a church near by that took up all my creative energy at that time. I don’t know if it was the talks that took away the energy, or their subject matter, or something that was going on inside me at that time and since, or a combination of all three, but I have not done much by way of creative work since that time. In the next few weeks I will be leading a couple of days entitled “Our Wounds are Our Teachers”. The title comes from Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan. Much of the most helpful material, to me at least, comes from Bill Plotkin’s “Soulcraft” and especially the chapter, “The Darkness Shall Be The Light”. Perhaps it is a testimony to this new work (both inner and outer) that I am able to write again.
This Blog has been an attempt to read J.R.R Tolkien’s great work, “The Lord of the Rings” as a source of wisdom and to share what I find there. When I last wrote I was standing with Théoden, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas in the rain outside the Golden Hall of Meduseld in Edoras. The rain was washing away the cloying dust of Théoden’s long imprisonment, both within his own hall and within the darkness of his own soul. His liberators had come to him with a power born of their own dark journeys. Gandalf the Grey, the secret pilgrim, was now clothed in white, his true greatness revealed at last, after his battle with the Balrog of Moria and his journey through death itself. Aragorn, the true King of Gondor and Arnor, as he reveals himself to Eomer and to Hama at Théoden’s door, has passed through his own sense of failure at the breaking of the Fellowship, the death of Boromir and the capture of Merry and Pippin by Orcs. He abandons the Quest of the Ring in order, as he believes at the time, to lay down his life in a hopeless attempt to free the young hobbits. Gimli and Legolas have been his faithful companions in this attempt and together they stand with a power that they have not known before.
For Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, their Dark Journeys have truly been their light and now they can share this with Théoden and his people who rise from darkness and despair by their aid to go to war with Saruman at Helms Deep. In our imaginations we go with them in that journey to war against the lords of darkness and despair. In our lives it may be that we are better able to stand with others in their dark journeys so that they too can discover that these journeys have been givers of light even as we discover that our own dark journeys are the greatest source of light in our own lives.
8 thoughts on “The Darkness Shall Be The Light”
Didn’t C. S. Lewis say something, somewhere, about apologetics being draining and dangerous work? Whether we come under attack when we speak the truth, or whether it merely drains us because it is powerful, I don’t know, but it can wipe one out. May you and I both be encouraged and strengthened.
The work I was doing was not in apologetics. Lewis certainly paid a great price for his involvement in that. Mine was more a meditation on the cross. I suspect that it may have re-opened my own wounds. I am sure that we are all wounded people but increasingly I am sure that we must allow those wounds to do their work in us, seeing them as gifts rather than burdens. My hope now is that finding the capacity to write again is a sign that this is happening. I am also sure that the pattern of being wounded and then slowly, painfully allowing the wounds to do their work will happen many times in my life yet. But Love will have the last word. That I also believe.
I think you are right on all counts, there. The use of pain is a hard truth, but truth nonetheless.
Great to see you back online Stephen!
I am instructing the online unit of Eugene Peterson’s “Soulcraft” course right now. Suffering is not a huge theme, as it is guided by Ephesians, but an intriguing course.
Great to hear from you as well, Brenton. I hope you enjoyed your recent trip to Europe. I enjoyed reading about it on your Blog. I have a great respect for Eugene Peterson’s work but do not know his Soulcraft course. I think that John Fitzpatrick puts what I am trying to grapple with very well in his comment below when he speaks of the moment when we have to leave behind any possibility of being able to direct events and simply trust. In that sense I wonder if Eph 4.1 is central to that letter with Paul’s description of himself as “a prisoner for the Lord.”
That’s our addiction in the west… or mine: to control the universe. It will take more than one voice to change that, but at least one.
Yes, I think the scene you describe above is like a kind of “tipping point” where rational plans and schemes don’t cut it any more. The characters have to let go of hopes and fears and preferred outcomes and what have you. They’ve nothing left to lose now and are thrown back on their inner core, clearing a space for the Divine to act and work.
There’s a similar moment in “The Last Battle” I feel, where Tirian et al realise that there’s no way they can prevail militarily against the Calormenes, but it’s exactly this that compels them to let go, trust in what’s right and make their stand, which in the end, of course, turns out to be absolutely crucial.
All the very best,
Thank you so much, John, for reminding me of Tirian in “The Last Battle”. I remember reading the moment when he realises there is nothing more that he can do to defend Narnia except lay down his life and yet he still trusts. It felt like a turning point in the story. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Four Stations on the Road to Freedom” also come to mind here, written in his prison cell at a similar point in his life. He speaks of Discipline, Action, Suffering and Death.