It’s time to stop pretending everything is okay.
The world is a dark place. Terrible things happen. Unimaginable horrors abound. Death and disease own the day. The shadows of nightmares run wicked through the forests of foreign lands.
But I don’t see them.
My suburban life is pretty easy. My lawn is green. My house is big. My belly is growing.
I need not concern myself with the darkness. It is removed from me by generations of whiteness and prosperity.
But even so, I can’t quite get comfortable. There is something in my heart that whispers of the dark that I’ve read about, the back pages of newspapers written in the corners of my soul. It’s not just out there.
It’s in me.
There is a temptation to pretend. It is easy to think that the bad things happen elsewhere, so it’s someone else’s fault, so it’s someone else’s problem. It’s easy slip into a touch screen in the morning and come out just before bedtime. It’s easy to pass the days until they are passed, until you wake up and the world is different, until you turn on the lights around you and look out the window and find that something inside you has crumbled.
Listen to this song.
Old man in a rocking chair
You wake up, you’ve been living alone
After all these years
Surrounded by these shards of mirrors
And how’d it get so quiet here,
You wonder, where did everyone go?
You wake up one day and things are different. Everyone’s left.
You tried so hard to make people remember you for something you were not
and if they so remember you then something else will certainly get forgotten.
Did they even know you when they were here?
Life is for the living
I’ve heard tell that it is why we are young
In the morning sun
You take every year as it comes
But when your life is over
All those years fold up like an accordion
They collapse just like a broken lung
This time will end. It will end. I will die.
Now I’ve only got one organ left and this old bag of bones it is failing me
I try to tell people that I’m dying only they don’t believe me
They say we’re all dying, that we’re all dying
But if, but if you are dying, why aren’t you scared?
Why aren’t you scared
Like I’m scared?
And suddenly the throwaway lines people give us to ease our fears don’t hold water and we have to face the fact that we are dying. We are dying. We should be scared.
I read somewhere that when you face eternity
you face it alone
no matter what you thought
or what you had
or you had not
unless you put yourself in God
but tell me God, oh where did you go?
And where is the God I’m supposed to know?
Every bitter night into an empty room I plead my case
Every night I pray that in the morning when I wake
I’ll be in a familiar place and find that I’m recovered and I’m sane
and I’ll remember everything
I’ll remember what I was like before that bug bit me
Why won’t He answer my prayers? Why don’t things change? Why don’t I change?
And when I have my childhood back
I’ll tear every page out of my book
And place them in an urn
Strike a match and watch them burn
Then I’ll hold the front cover
Against the back cover and look
Eternity will smile on me
Eternity will smile on me.
This song, I think, sums out where we need to be. Before we can really talk about virtue, we have to know our lack. We have to acknowledge our sin. We have to admit it is dark. We have to admit part of us is dark.
Only then can we be ready for the light.
We are the religion of hope, but hope demands honesty about the poverty of our present state as well as the glory of our future dreams.
We are dying. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t life to be found.