March 2016 Column Winner

Make room for darkness
Ted Streuli, The Journal Record

One morning last year I had a day that didn’t start very well.
There was tension at home, some arguing, a battle to get the children out the door in time for the school bus. I got in the car to drive to work and pulled out of the garage relieved to have the stressful household behind me. It was raining. Blurry red lights stretched for uninterrupted miles down Interstate 35 as cars plodded, then slipped, then squealed in front of me. The grayness seeped through and grabbed onto my soul.
“Wait!” I thought. “I’ll turn off the radio and put in my new Diana Krall CD!”
It had just arrived and I was looking forward to it; surely it would lift my still darkening mood. I slid Wallflower into the player and discovered that Krall had successfully put her soulful voice to a collection of songs about loneliness, unrequited love and longing. Alone Again. Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word. Desperado. Operator, that’s not the way it feels. Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me baby?
Realizing there was no conveniently located bridge I could drive off, I succumbed to the bleakness of the day with gusto. That darkness held the sadness of a lifetime, from trivial regrets to my father’s tomb and my son’s urn, and I decided to let it envelope me.
Darkness is a solitary experience.
The clouds roll in, the darkness fills your soul and it starts to rain in your heart, eroding, cleansing. That kind of sadness isn’t for something we’ve lost, it’s for everything we’ve lost and everything we will lose. It’s the sadness you didn’t know was there, the one that makes you cry in the middle of the third hymn at church and you don’t know why you’re crying.
It lasted a while. And when it was over, I felt empty. Relieved. And open.
We have to make room. We visit the graves of people we loved so we can feel sadness fully, so it can surface and dissipate. We have to let the sadness flow out or there’s no room for the good to come in. We have convinced ourselves that we are supposed to be happy every moment and that if we’re not there is something wrong. But life is a pendulum. When we’re sad everyone rushes to say, “Don’t worry! Things will get better!”
But when we’re happy no one says – though it’s equally true – “Don’t worry! Things will get worse!” If you doubt that, check with someone in the oil business.
Why do we tell people, especially children, to stop crying? Because we are selfish, because we do not like the sound, because we cannot stand a few minutes of discomfort no matter the benefit to the one releasing the tears.
We should encourage it. “Cry!” we should say. “Feel!”
Never mind the Good News. Good
Friday is a story is of death and burial, of tombs and darkness. It is a funeral, a place where we reflect on the person we have lost, the others we have lost, and the times we have lost ourselves.
In John’s version, the crucifixion occurred on the Jewish day of Preparation, the day before a Sabbath, when no bodies could remain on crosses; that darkness had to be removed.
The significance of preparation is central to the Easter theme. Adherents must indulge fully in the darkness of a torturous death and the aloneness of the burial to be prepared for the joy of the resurrection.
But for one day, let’s just cry.

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