A Light in Dark Places

A Light in Dark Places

Wednesday was a perfect spring day; Sunny, warm, and the air as soft as dandelion fluff. I mowed the lawn, played with my horse, and sat of the patio soaking in the sun. As the day wore on, however, my inner weather-forecaster began to grow nervous. A few hundred miles to our northwest, a wedge of cold air was plummeting southward, setting up a classic springtime scenario for the formation of dangerous storms, which were forecast to arrive late that night.

“Why is it always this way?” I thought as I walked to the barn. “Why does everything good come at such a heavy price?”

I pondered this a while

The answer, of course, came from Nature herself. The storms that would follow our perfect day weren’t an unfortunate coincidence or payment of a karmic debt, but proof that The Wild isn’t a system of reward and punishment, fairness and unfairness, but a delicate balancing act. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are essential to the survival of our planet. On warm, humid days, the balmy air rises and is trapped under the pressure of the stratosphere. A beautiful stretch of days for us is actually building an atom bomb in the atmosphere. The stored energy grows until it breaks through the “cap” holding it in and that explosive release of energy gives birth to severe storms. As bad as these events can be, without them, this potential energy would build to catastrophic proportions and its release would be Armageddon. Balance isn’t always beautiful, but in the end, our survival depends upon it.

In thinking about my own life, perhaps I should seek balance rather than conquest. I don’t have to defeat “evil” or rid myself of imperfections, all I have to do is work to have a life of balance. When I see injustice, I can respond by acting justly. When I see cruelty, I can respond with compassion and when I fall short in my relationships with other human beings, I don’t have to do penance, all I have to do behave better next time around.

Saint Francis of Assisi gave voice to such thoughts eight centuries ago when he wrote:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

We don’t have to vanquish foes or curry Divine favor to make a difference in the world. All we have to do is make sure we’re there to bring the scales of life into balance.