The first time I remember feeling the compelling urge to die, I was fifteen.
It was night. I was standing alone by the side of a busy highway on the outskirts of Kelowna. As the headlights of cars and trucks sped past, the compulsion to step in front of an on-coming vehicle felt almost irresistible.
Of course I did resist the urge all those years ago and have managed to fight it back every time it has arisen since.
The destructive feeling has certainly come more rarely in the past two decades. But, it would be less than honest not to admit that, despite the extraordinary beauty of life in general and the rich blessing of my life in particular, some dark beast has continued to lurk near the wasteland edges of my consciousness.
I have no explanation for this feeling. I cannot fathom the mystery of its origin nor understand where it goes when it silently slips away for a time.
What I do know is that, as much as I have spent my life aware of a dark power that permeates the fringes of life, I have always remained conscious of a stronger force at work drawing me irresistibly towards the light. The miracle of human existence is that life is in fact bigger than death. The light is stronger than the dark. There is no force of harm that can ultimately defeat the power of love.
In the Christian tradition that nurtures my spiritual life, we call that “force” Christ. Christ is the force of Life. We believe this force was embodied historically in the person of Jesus and we see this power born in every human being and, to some degree, in all forms of life.
Christians around the world have just travelled through the profound journey of Holy Week and Easter. We have traversed the terrain of betrayal, abandonment, denial, injustice, torture, and death. We have walked in dark places. But we have not settled down in those forsaken landscapes. We have not allowed suffering and death to define us.
We know, in a year as spring returns and we walk through the dark landscape of Holy Week, we will find ourselves again in the difficult wasteland of Jesus’ final days. But, we also know, we will not remain with death. Through those terrible circumstances that afflicted Jesus at the end of his life, we will discover the blinding light we call resurrection. We will affirm the triumph of life over death, the power of love to conquer hatred, and the force of Life that is never defeated.
At our best, we stand in the midst of the darkest places in life and share this vision of light with all who struggle in the grip of the dark forces of night. We stand by the highway with a sad and lonely young man and assure him he does not stand alone. We hold the hand of the grieving, the sick, the lonely, and the suffering. We bear witness for peace in the land torn by violence and distress.
Christian faith affirms that in the darkest night, the light of morning is beginning to dawn. When we hold our hearts open to that place of goodness and truth, we find the threatening shadows soften and the shards of light begin to break through.
Christopher Page is the rector of St. Philip Anglican Church in Oak Bay, and the Archdeacon of Tolmie in the Anglican Diocese of B.C. He writes regularly on his blog www.inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com
You can read more articles from our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking HERE
* This article was published in Faith Forum in the printe edition of the Times Colonst on Saturday April 26