Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Unlit Way

Going Higher

How high can you go on a 10,000 foot mountain? (not a trick question) What if you want to go to 12,000 feet? How would you get there? If you are at the peak of one mountain but want to go higher, you only have one option: descend. Descend back down the mountainside, back through the tree line, climbing over boulders and logs, down into the forest to find a path somewhere, anywhere that leads to the higher peak.

Ascending means descending.
Constructing means deconstructing.
Getting to new light means going through an unlit way.

Somewhere along Jr High School, I took a Biology class and learned about photosynthesis. Its the term used to describe how plants exchange sunlight for energy. If photosynthesis describes how plants transform then maybe we could coin a new word, theossynthesis, to convey how our inner lives transform. As sunlight changes plants, so Sonlight changes us. But if the Spirit leads us to a higher peak, the only option is to forsake full exposure to the light and descend into the shadows. Trudging, hiking and laboring, for long distances we forge down looking for light, often finding only shadows. Some journey for years before ever ascending again. Yet, its the only way to get to the light. Its the only way to a higher peak.

Picture an obscure fern fighting to grow beneath the canopy of towering pines. Every inch of growth you see on that plant, deep in the forest represents an amazing resilience and tenacity. Photosynthesis is a life and death struggle at the lower elevation. Theossynthesis is as well. In the midst of this shadowy journey, I've found that every minuscule transformation is a fitful struggle. Some days light doesn't come at all. So... I go deeper. Learning and growing when light is available but also learning to adapt when it isn't. Occasionally it feels as though transformation is more about going down into the soil of myself, finding traces of God-light previously deposited, than it does to reach up, beyond myself to find it. Sometimes when the light is inaccessible for long periods of time, in humility all I can do is physically lower my head to whisper a prayer or recite a psalm to myself. Why to myself? Because in the silence of the veiled canyon I'm not even sure God is listening.

The Unlit Way

The longer I hike, the darker and more difficult the unlit way becomes. Yet, too much ground has been covered to turn back. If God only gives direction intermittently then that's what it will be. Yes, I'd like to scale a peak with Him. But, He'd like me to trudge in the shadows a little longer. I'd love to join God in a bold action. But apparently He wants me to join Him in suffering. I don't enjoy this but because I trust God, I'll embrace it.

I'll embrace...
Letting go of everything known to gain what is not yet known.
Leaving one mountain peak in order to scale something higher.
Walking deeper in the darkness to get closer to the light.

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Jonathan Foster said...

Wish I would have come across this quote earlier because I would have used it in this post...

"Churches are best for prayer, that have least light." John Donne

Jimmy Cochran said...

This really speaks to me. I feel better.