Today’s post is from guest blogger Jeff Vomund, Chair of the Dignity/Washington Liturgy Committee
I’ll never forget picking up Colm Toibin’s book of literary criticism, Love in a Dark Time. This lovely and often tragic book explores the writing lives of famously gay writers who suffered due to their sexuality. But even more than the insight of Toibin’s prose, these days I just have a visceral connection to the title. These can feel like dark times indeed if you are an undocumented immigrant in America, or a transgender person serving in the military, or an unemployed factory worker in the Rust Belt, or a person of color who cannot seem to claw her way onto an equal footing with the rest of our prosperous nation, or a person coming to terms with the wreckage that sexual assault has caused in her life, or even I think, if you are a white, heterosexual person who just isn’t sure what to make of all of these burgeoning identities crowding into your consciousness for the first time.
Our instinctive response to darkness is always fear, and fear is attached to that part of the brain that feeds our anger. We see that anger at every level of our national discourse – which then seems to feed the cycle of fear, and even more anger, and so on it goes. These can feel like dark days indeed.
It is precisely to help us see in moments of darkness – to stop the cycle of fear and anger – that faith is most essential. The Scriptures remind us that perfect love casts out fear, that what we need is trust. And so it is through our own particular trust that the members of Dignity/Washington, a faith community of LGBTQ Catholics and allies, once again seek to share our experience of the light and love of Jesus. We’ve produced a booklet entitled And the Darkness Shall Not Overcome It: Reflections on the Advent and Christmas Readings Through an LGBTQ Lens. We want to share it with others not because we live with a greater darkness, but rather in the hopes that by sharing our experience of the Light which overcomes it, we will find with any person of faith a common experience of wonder.
Like our Lenten book of reflections, Scripture and Story: Lent through an LGBTQ Lens, (Go to http://www.dignitywashington.org/2017/02/lent-2017-daily-reflection/ for a pdf.) these daily offerings are based on the seasonal readings from the Lectionary. They echo its themes: searching for God’s presence in the midst of confusion and longing; a universal love dwelling particularly in the outcast and the oppressed; and a gritty hope growing from a tenacious trust that God is, in fact, with us.
Anyone who wishes for a reflection to be emailed to them each day throughout Advent and Christmas can sign up for our daily emails http://bit.ly/DWAdvent2017. A pdf version of the booklet is available at www.dignitywashington.org/adventbook; and in order to get a hard copy just make that request and send your address to email@example.com.
We offer these reflections about our experiences of a love which can brighten any darkness, because we believe that particular experiences open up love’s universal reality. A love whose fulfillment we await and for which we prepare, but also a love that is always and already with us, nearer to us than our own breath, made flesh in Jesus – and through Jesus in every single atom and person in our universe. Whatever else might make us different, it is our fundamental “lovedness” that makes us one.
Perhaps that is what makes these days feel especially dark at times. It seems that so many in our world see our lovedness as anything but universal, as if Jesus “pitched his tent” in a very remote corner of the world to which only a relative few have been invited – those who have had the right experiences, or who believe the right things, or who were born in the right place or who love in the right way. Our experience and these Scriptures move us to say just the opposite.
Advent, like salvation history itself, entails the great preparation for receiving a Divine love that is always bigger than we had thought. A love that always finds room for, and seeks out, the Other. In the end, this may be precisely the darkness which Jesus’ light is meant to overcome – the darkness of our divisions, our perceived separateness, our isolation. To that end, we at Dignity/Washington hope that our reflections allow all who read them to take at least one small step in the direction of that love which overcomes anything that threatens to keep us apart.
–Jeff Vomund, Dignity/Washington, November 29, 2017