It is better to walk in the light than to curse in the darkness.
I was thinking of this when I had to wait for the doctor until the last minute, and then when I walked through the rain in the city waiting for the bus home. I had felt that I was being treated unfairly, that I was not being shown the respect I had expected. But why was that MY problem? My task was to shine with the brilliant white light of divine love, as shown by my Lord and hero Jesus Christ. He was certainly not treated with the respect he deserved when he was flogged and mocked and suffered a humiliating death at the hands of the people he was trying to save. In comparison, I did not really have much to complain about. Yet at that time, Jesus Christ shone with a spiritual light that has continued to shine throughout almost 2000 years since.
I was thinking of this again tonight. As expected, I have bounced back to my normal carefree happiness, more or less, before I am even out of the home. What really got my goat about this moving scandal was that my landlord just off and sold the house as if it did not matter that I had a written contract with five months warning, rather than the couple weeks he gave me. That is a pretty harsh insult. But if he has committed an injustice against me, as he technically has to some degree, that is a damage to his soul. I am under no obligation to damage my own soul in return by anger or bitterness. On the contrary, I am obliged to shine with a brilliant white light of divine love, so that I may if possible help heal his soul as well as my own. (Which is pretty near fully recovered by now – took it long enough!)
It was not just Jesus. Â In the early church, suffering injustice of various kinds was more or less the way of life. The apostle writes to the Hebrew church that they had “accepted with joy that your belongings were robbed”, as the more colorful Norwegian translation puts it. If someone had walked into my home, pointed a gun at me and started carrying off my stuff, I might possibly have accepted it… at least it beats being dead. But with joy? Now that is a tall order. Of course, there was a reason for their puzzling attitude: They knew that they had something better waiting for them.
Heaven is not (primarily, at least) some place where things are pretty. It is first and foremost a state of mind. If the insult and injury of life can cause us to see and crack loose a small bit of the fossilized dung that covers us, and the divine nature born in the deepest core of our heart begins to shine visibly, then paradise is right there, and the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near. That is what I believe. Â The Kingdom of Heaven is said to consist not in food and drink, but in justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Â Sure, we would want the Kingdom of Heaven to come in the form of other people doing justice to us, but wouldn’t that mean that they would also be the ones getting the peace and joy? Ever thought about that?
Of course, none of this will make any sense for the hedonist, who expects everything to be over when he dies. Well, he is kind of right. All the things he has been living for will be over when he dies. To exist as pure desire without the things one desires is not a fate I would wish on a mortal enemy, much less someone just making a mistake. But I cannot change the fate of another directly. The most I can do is shine with a brilliant light, a refraction of the Uncreated Light which gave us all light and reason.
There is only so much time during which we pass through life as a whole, much less an individual trial. That is our brief opportunity to shine, so that when we are gone, there will only be a brightness left, and a faint call: “Follow me into the Light.”
That’s what I aim for, but that’s not quite where I am, I think… so on we go!