John Singer Sargent. Black Brook. Tate Museum.
Jesus did not come into history to condemn our behaviors and failures but to affirm that they can become a holy offering and a source of hope and new life. Failure is a dark experience that touches us at our very core. It shouts to us at some basic level of our being that we are inadequate and have not lived up to our expectations nor the expectations of others. Those feelings become a tear in the fabric of our personhood and self-worth. The sources vary—broken relationships, financial difficulties, shattered dreams, spiritual drought—but whatever the source, the weight and sting of failure haunts us. We must not continue to bear this unbearable burden. It activates and reactivates anxiety and shame that saps our energy and influences our choices and responses. Finally and mercifully, it sends us reeling down into the darkness of inner crucifixion.
We need to shift our focus and accept that this season of darkness is truly a time of preparation, a stilling. Acceptance of this ‘not-knowing’ brings forth a complete transformation of self if we will trust it. Its purpose is purification and purgation and leads ultimately to freedom—freedom to finally be who God created us to be, to love and live in God, and to be filled with God. If we will allow the darkness and the silence, God will allow the seeds of our false self to die enough for Him to send up a little sprout of new life. It takes a long time for a tree to grow to its fullness, but as it emerges from the darkness, it offers shelter and beauty to the world.The Hidden Life Awakened p210
Everything grows in darkness and silence. Quieting our negative thoughts enough to embrace our failures and disappointments opens us to what is real, as painful as it may be. We begin to sense the compassionate touch of God’s healing hand leading us to down to solid ground and the depths of our shared humanity. Here, in this place of union, Love is perfected. All things are one.
Might the labor of love that went into the words on this page encourage us towards a new thought—the thought that amid all of our failed hopes and shattered dreams, the Eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms1, and nothing falls but into Life.
In desolation, dissipated, and in pain,
I roamed the dark and braided shadows of my days,
Longing for order amid my chaos,
Looking for new ways,
Searching for what belongs and where it is.
In silence and alone, I slowly struggled upward.
Above me, the hills had caught the morning Light.
I heard it singing as I went
Among the grass blades and the leaves.
I touched the grey roots of ancient trees,
Their wisdom woven in the rocks.
The dew-wet footprints in the moss are His.
I follow to the cross.
And what is heaviest and mute
Is found, is freed, is raised
In a single, silver strand of praise.
I join hands with others and the earth,
Step into this costly dance.
For eternal is the wheel, and endless is the dance
That grinds the seasons of the soul
Where nothing falls but into Life.
Grace brought me to this place,
This gentle hill and ground
Where all Beauty is first found.
My story lies upon it; I rest beside it in the dark.
For what I found, I am.
And where I am is Home.