The words of John 1.5:
The light shines in the darkness - and the darkness . . .
are probably some of the best known words from the Bible; everyone appearing to know it.
This and, 'It's always darkest before the dawn,' are definitely two of the top trite phrases of 2014 thus far. Used by well-meaning folk who are seeking to bring some cheer and hope in what appears to be a cheerless and rather hopeless world.
We need only to open our newspapers or turn on the TV or radio to realise that we live in a world where the darkness is becoming more obvious and the light, which my scientific training and empirically derived knowledge of the properties of darkness and light tells me the light is destined to win, is appearing to be overcome!
Experience, from working a hundred feet or more underneath London, tells me that even the smallest light (literally at the end of the tunnel) can dispel the blue-black that swamps you once your Tilley lamp (a pressurised paraffin lamp) goes out. As the light vanishes the darkness greedily washes over you and your senses, swamped and confused by the loss of light, renders you totally lost. Hearing is affected too - and standing between the two tracks - you begin to feel the panic rise, just a little, in the pit of your stomach and that little space at the back of your brain.
Apart from the bizarre knowledge that being a smoker would mean you had a lighter to see momentarily with (and destroy for longer any chance of seeing in the longer term) you stand still and, collecting whatever composure you might be able to muster, reach out to the side of the tunnel. Your hands seeking two copper wires which, should you have the field telephone to hand, would enable you to communicate with people who, oblivious to that which you're experiencing, are living in the light!
These two wires also tell you which you're going - East or West - something that offered you a little control in an otherwise potentially out of control situation. Feeling them on the right of the tunnel meant you were facing East. This knowledge allowed you to start the journey to the nearest station and safety.
Having read the news, seen the dawn break and experienced the relative darkness that is night be dispelled it seems to me that the spiritual darkness is slowly, like fog on the Thames, creeping in and gaining the upper hand. It's removing clear vision and touching the emotions and muddling the senses. Our clear sense of direction, whilst intellectually maintained, is replaced by something more akin to panic!
So how do we proceed in a world:
Where war crimes abound in Syria, Iraq, Israel and Gaza?
Where innocent lives are taken by lunatics armed with weapons provided by more powerful lunatics?
Where ordinary people in an affluent Western world find themselves relying on Food Banks to survive?
Where 'drug resistant' Malaria and untouchable Ebola virus are tightening their deadly grip*?
Well, of course I would say this, the answer is simple.
We pray - we keep calm - we act like Jesus tells us to act - we give our money - we give our time - we tell it as it should be told (excuse me Israel, you're not acting like God's people, you're acting like very naughty unbelievers - love The Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself, humility, justice and mercy - and that sort of thing) - we tell our politicians what we feel they should be doing to make things right - we teach our children right from wrong - and (you know what the 'and' is don't you?)"
It's not really dark at all - try removing you head from under the covers and you'll not only see the light dispel the darkness but you'll also see it's probably later than you think too!
This is your 'Happy Friday' wake-up call ;-)
* I got pinned in a corner at a party by a medical researcher some years back. A nice chap who told me how if we spent just 2% of the money the world spends on weapons and armament, how we would eradicate malaria, polio, diabetes and the other 'popular' diseases in the world - doubt this scenario has changed much!