Annus Horibilis 1992 – I am talking about royalty this week – it seemed to occupy my mind as I prepared for Easter – and as I have just handed in my allegiance to the queen – it made me ask deeper questions about the nature of allegiance we might be asked to offer to another – our savior – who we see in his death today offers himself to us.
Into my own by Robert Frost
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.
I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.
They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I thought was true.
There is a canyon outside my apartment – with dark trees in it – it made me think of this poem as I was sitting on my balcony drinking a cup of tea preparing for today. As I said at the beginning – I have been thinking about royalty – how they are different and how they are the same as us – we can be dazzled by their splendor – but they suffer too – when the Queen spoke of her Annus Horibilis – it was a rather grand way of saying she had been through a horrible year. She walked through the darkness and then she shared it with us – for the tight lipped british monarchy it was a watershed moment – we were allowed in to see the suffering of royalty – as today we are invited in to see the suffering of divinity.
Robert Frost talks of those dark trees – and there is almost a reticence to approach them – because they are the mask of gloom – but he wishes too. Today we are asked to approach our own mask of gloom and enter into it so that we might see what we find.
Most of us want to avoid the dark at all costs. I was afraid of the dark as a small child – what I have discovered – through the years – is that I was not so much afraid of the darkness that descended in my room – as the darkness inside – which comes alive as the stimulation of lights and noise and action from the outside are withdrawn or dimmed. We can hear our inner world so much more clearly when we silence the outer world – and some of, well, all of us really, can be afraid of the darkness that is inside. But today we are asked to go there – be brave – be courageous – you are not alone – and what we find there might be in line with what Robert Frost discovered when he approached the trees.
Jesus does not avoid the darkness – he plunges into it – he is not unafraid – as we know from the Garden of Gethsemane stories – he was scared and wanted to avoid this – like we all do! But he went none the less – and entered the darkness: of suffering and death.
What is that suffering like?
Why did he do it?
What should we do? It would be easy to say don’t be afraid of the darkness inside you – but it would also be ridiculous to say it – do be afraid – do – do – do – but go there anyway. Becoming a spiritually mature person is dependant on you confronting the darkness inside rather than avoiding it – so it is scary – but it is worth it – when you get there you will find Jesus already there, waiting for you – having walked this path already he can take your hand through to the other side.
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