December 1, 2008

The painful bright

Romans 13:11

The hour has come for you to wake up.

It is the first Sunday of Advent. We begin our vigil, waiting for the light.

Sometimes I feel ambivalent about the coming of the light. When the light comes, justice will come; when justice comes, I might be found on the wrong side of the equation. In what ways do I oppress others with hardly a conscious thought? In what ways do I need to wake up to my own subtle ways of using and injuring others?

Today I have a new thought about the coming of the light and another reason to feel ambivalent: Not all of us want to be in the light at all, and it’s not because we purchase clothes made in sweat shops, or whatever else I was alluding to in the paragraph above. Much closer to home, in our emotional lives and our relationships and our everyday behavior, some of us don’t want to wake up. We don’t want to be conscious of painful realities.

There’s a further complication: We help each other stay asleep. People in group X don’t want to wake up, and people in group Y are desperately trying to help group X stay asleep at any cost. Meaning that the helpful assistants who make up group Y are also asleep.

The system breaks down with the coming of light, and it hurts like hell. Nobody, including me, a recovering member of group Y, wants that painful bright thing shining on everybody’s private business.

But alas:

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
Rom 13:12