A couple of weeks ago I was travelling back from a dance workshop with a friend of mine – racing fast across the Fens. Now the Fens, for those of you who aren’t aware, are a huge area of wide open and totally flat land in the east of England, land reclaimed from marsh and sea. The land is fertile, houses are few and far between. Drainage waterways run straight as a die and cut across massive fields, luring the careless car driver to a watery grave. Wind farms create stark sillhouettes against an infinite sky. The horizon stretches for miles into the distance while roads reach into the endless and unbounded sky.
The evening drew in, and sky blue changed to hues of orange and crimson, cobalt and indigo, etching fire across the canvas of never ending sky. As we travelled down one of the long and featureless roads, white lines reaching forward to draw us ever onward, my friend said to me ‘you know, it’s almost as if from here we could outrun the dark’. And it did feel like that.
Sometimes it does feel as if darkness is creeping up on us on all sides. At a global level we have war, famine and terror stalking the political map, while economic depression is woven into each decision. Bombs tear sport events apart while gun fire rips the hearts out of communities. Closer to home, the economy continues to wreak havoc on lives that were settled and comfortable. Once respected personalities fall from grace. The environment is under threat and the planet is running out of oil and energy.
And greater dangers lie even closer to home. Sometimes it feels as if we are the greatest failures – failing to provide for our families, failing to keep a job, failing to live life right. When we look into our hearts we see darkness and defeat, uncovering anger and lovelessness.
So can we? Can we really outrun the dark? Or is it inevitable that darkness will overtake us and drag is into the night?
In truth, the darkness can only reach us if we let it. Only if we choose it can the darkness wrap its fingers around our hearts. Because at our core, we are light. We are incredible, glorious, wonderful, beautiful. We are hope, and truth, and power. We are magical, capable, incredible, miraculous, strong beyond measure.
Like many of us, I’ve done things that I am not particularly proud of this week. Actions that do not live up to the wonder of who I truly am. Decisions that lacked love. And yet I know that those actions are not who I am. I believe I was made in the image of God – full of light, and love, and kindness, and hope, and truth. Full of tenderness, and passion, and wisdom. We don’t have to find some way to become good people. We don’t have to ‘see the light’ and be transformed. Goodness and love, light and truth are our real nature. We just forget it sometimes. For sure, we make mistakes. We get things wrong. But that doesn’t change who we really are inside.
The darkness can only overtake us if we let it.
And yet, that’s not the whole truth. Because in truth, if we choose to face it, darkness has to run from us. If we decide to love instead of hate, to care instead of being thoughtless, to act instead of remaining passive – if we choose to bless rather than curse, to believe rather than lose faith. if we choose action rather than inaction, then darkness has to retreat from us. And it seems that we’re starting to find that. In the last century, it seemed that darkness threatened to consume the world. People had no power and surrendered to the authority of those in charge. Yet now, as the internet connects us in ways unheard of before, people are finding their voice. People are saying ‘enough’. People are turning and facing the dark. and the darkness must lose. Whether it’s making our voices heard when government or global industry get it wrong, or joining together to create hope and love in some famine torn part of the planet, we’re starting to find that we matter – that we can make a difference.
So today, let’s choose to live from love, to live from hope. It might be in the smallest things. It might simply be a smile to the checkout assistant, opening a door for a struggling mother with a pram, a kind word in the right place. It might be a word of encouragement, a small yet thoughtful gift. And yet that simple act could change a life.. and changing a life changes the world.