Tuesday, May 31, 2016
I Don't Care
It is the early morning hour before sunrise. It is dark. I am awake in my bed. No alarm wakes me; I’ve reached the perfect amount of rest. My mind wakes but my eyes stay closed, and all I see is darkness.
I thought of the gathering of friends last night over dinner. The conversation covered things we shared in common, and things of a personal concern. And we asked each other to pray about those personal concerns --- and so they became OUR concerns. And it all seemed right. And we touched on the Gospel of the rich man and what he couldn’t give up, and perhaps it was that parable which led us to talk about the money that we had given up, unwillingly. Looking back, it was obvious the losses we spoke of concerned us very much, and we could not let them go. We, who are rich in so many ways, couldn’t forget money.
In the dark of my bedroom I thought of the Parable of the Rich Man. His money symbolizes all our cares in this world, all the things we prize, that we would never consider giving up. We all have something like that. The Prayer For Humility I pray asks that I give up many personal, very difficult things for me to give up; they are things that drive the ego, things that make me feel important. And I pray that I can give them up.
But money, money is the catchall of all desires. “Money buys anything.” We have this learned desire for money, and our hearts think that no matter how bad things get, “If I have money, well, money can buy happiness.” And that’s why we spoke of our loss of money last night. Even as we also spoke of our many givings of time and talent (and money) to charities, still, we acutely remembered the loss of money. It was somehow important, this loss of money we readily admitted that we didn’t even need.
And the darkness seemed to deepen in my bedroom, as I thought: That’s it! That’s the point of the Parable of the Rich Man. That’s what Jesus is asking the rich man to give up. It’s not the money; it’s the attitude about money which we can’t give up. The rich man was honest and walked away. If he gave up HIS money, he would always regret it. “Money can get me anything I want.”
What Jesus was saying is: “I am everything you want.” What Jesus asked of the rich man is what He asked of Peter: “Do you love Me?” What Jesus was asking them is the heart of the Gospels. Can you give up all YOU want and say “I don’t care” to it, and not regret the loss? Can you love Him; can you trust Him, as He trusted His Father?
Can we say: “I don’t care”?
Those words, “I don’t care,” seemed to deepen my feelings of quiet and darkness, and aloneness. My heart felt heavy. I thought briefly of the soldier with the PTSD contemplating suicide. Was this how he felt? But no, his darkness was not a giving up of caring, but the ultimate opposite: He cares about horrible things so much that he could never stop thinking of them, never stop caring about them, and realizing that for all his caring, he could do nothing about it.
In the darkness I suddenly recalled His words: I am the Light. And I perceived light in my darkness. I’ve walked in absolute darkness on a Texas starless night, far from the city lights, when I couldn’t see the hand in front of my face. And I’ve read about the effects of light, and how in a perfect darkness the human eye could see a candle from miles away. And in my mind’s eye, this night I saw that candle.
I think it is good that these thoughts came to me. I write them in hopes of remembering the lesson. And as I sit on my sofa and write, I hear the birds chirping outside my living room window. And I recall: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
So many things concern us in life, and that is good. Teresa of Calcutta, Joan of Arc and Jesus all had great concerns, and sometimes they too felt a great darkness. Darkness itself is not a bad thing; because of it we can better see the Light.
I think sometimes all we need to do is put aside our concerns about the darkness we perceive, and open our eyes to see the Light. And then we can see a new day dawning.