On the Darkness

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My favourite kind of art explores the darkness.

I don’t mean the sensational darkness of psychological trouble, of psychopaths and murders and crime. Nor do I mean the dark depths of addiction and vice and moral evil. That’s pop stuff. We project it away from ourselves, and our experience in our minds becomes all light.

I mean the darkness that confronts the steady and true man as he gazes into the future. I mean the rot that devours all that is lovable, the skeleton into which every puppy turns, the graves that swallow all our friends, the gaunt and wrinkled face that will stare out of the mirror at each of us, the last squeeze of a mother’s hand in its coffin, the final kiss on the forehead of a dying child, the last “I love you” to pass the lips of a wife of fifty years before her mouth falls stupidly open in the silent scream of death and all the life and love pass from her hazel eyes.

I mean the fire that breaks the finest church, the excavator that inevitably rips down each beautiful house, the fate that befalls one by one each childhood haunt, and the bleak emptiness that replaces all of these things. I mean the tears that well up through the throat and come out the eyes, the grief that makes you want to vomit out your soul, the spasms that turn to sobs that turn to pitiful attempts at words, attempts to express a longing, a bewilderment, an exasperation, a plaint, a prayer that cannot be spoken, that cannot be said, that can only be groaned and blubbered and mouthed.

I mean the darkness that overwhelms, that consumes, that leaves a man helpless, powerless, grasping for something solid, groping in an empty, dark room without a floor, without a ceiling, without walls, trying to find a way out of life, out of the nightmare that is coming to him and his own, to his work, his friends, his family, all that he loves. I mean the marching darkness that stops for no one, gives no quarter, shows no mercy, relentlessly takes and takes and takes.

In this darkness we find the depths of our own hearts. We find that we can weep, that we have loved, that we have longed, that we have yearned, more than we’d ever thought possible in the mundane day-to-day. It is in our groans that we best express ourselves, creatures that long to love, to be loved, to be still, to be safe.

This darkness is the light that God has given to our sinfulness. The Father does not spoil His children, does not spare us this rod, this staff, our comfort still. By submerging us in this darkness, He points us the way to love, and forces us to love the Way, the Truth, and the Life that will never be lost, more with each passing day and passing friend. And when we love that Light, then we see in the triumph of that darkness the triumph of our Light, when all that can be lost is lost for good, and we possess without fear the one thing we should fear to lose, that Day when all our loves come back again,

The Day of Anger, Day of Wrath,
When all the world shall pass to ash,
And all that’s ash shall pass to life,

then, standing in the awesome glory of that holy Light, we shall bless the darkness.

Sean Connolly

Sean Connolly

Sean is a teacher of History, Latin, and Choir at the high school level and parish music director. He keeps his domestic church in ordered disarray with an equally beleaguered and altogether lovely lady and his little daughter.

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