Sunday, August 28, 2016

Annus Horribilis

In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning. Or maybe it is 2016. I’m starting to be old enough to realize that no election year is pretty, and elections are fairly common around here. But 2016 seems to be vying for a top spot on the bad years list. The political tension, the protests, the refugee crisis, the poisonous water, the spreading virus, and all the death. So many people have passed away, both in the public sphere and privately.

Recently, at a memorial Mass (the third I had attended in a month), the celebrant noted it had been a bad year but that good things had happened too. He fondly recalled a recent ordination then asked, “What other good things have happened?” No one answered. You could sense everyone trying to think of an answer, to find something to celebrate. But it’s been a rough year.

I mean, not 1353 bad, or even 1916 bad, but maybe 1968 without the optimism of going to the moon. The year is only halfway through, and I’ve heard multiple people ask, “Is 2016 over yet?” I hear the end-times-ers crying that we’re living through the prophecy of Revelation, and while I vehemently disagree with their theology, I get it. Surely this can only be fixed through total destruction and rebuilding, right? How do we get ourselves out of a global dark night of the soul?

Much like purgatory, a dark night of the soul is temporary, and it leads to something greater. I wouldn’t go as far to call it necessary—we got ourselves here—but is a part of the path, not an end. There is light somewhere, even if unseen. A new year is only a few months away.

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