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Starting Now? The End to the Cynicism

Just before twilight and all the dark, there’s this going to to the woods with the dog and the girl, because really, there’s just too much light not to go.

She cuts the stems of the berried plants.

She sings hymns.

And I pick grasses and listen to her, how she sings and it’s bold, and just for a moment I wonder if there’s need to ask for forgiveness?

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Do you apologize for the chorus of hymns to those who hurt and cry from the ache? Joy can feel like naivete at best and neglect at worst and it’s easy to think only the dim-witted feel joy at all. A blue jay cries from somewhere in the trees.

And she sings clear and high, her head bowed over her work : “How Great Thou Art…

I lay dead grasses into this bouquet.

The cynics and the sarcastics, the critics and the condemning, they speak loud, like they speak the language of this fallen world.

And the diatribes of doubters, dissenters, detractors, this can read like it’s some deep intelligence, the way a tongue, a sharp word, can cut everything back. It means that, I’m told: sarcasm means “to rend the flesh.” But cynics aren’t surgeons and the sarcastic aren’t specialists and why is it so hard to think joy’s a real medicine?

The thing is: The cynics, they can only speak of the dark, of the obvious, and this is not hard. For all it’s supposed sophistication, it’s cynicism that’s simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is it to see the cracks?

The sages and prophets, the disciples and revolutionaries, they are the ones up on the ramparts, up on the wall pointing to the dawn of the new Kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and to the Blazing God who never sleeps.

The brilliant don’t deny the dark but they are the ones who always seek the light in everything. This is not ignorance. This is imperative: 

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

Always first the eyes. The way we see is the way we’re saved. 

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True, there’s no getting around it: There are raw edges everywhere and we’re shattered and serrated and we’d be fools not to moan and bemoan for a doctor. But the Truth is: we have One.

And we lament visceral pain, the way injustice lances and bleeds. But praise God that there is a doctor in the House! And He knows your name and He holds the stars and His girds underneath and He never lets go and He is Joy and He is Light and He is the warrior who defeats the dark.

The language of genuine Biblical lament, this needs learning. But we’re freed from our mother tongue of complaint when we know our Father’s heart. 

I had written it once and then tried to live it:I will not desecrate this moment with ignorant hurry or sordid ingratitude.” And I scratch it now underneath: I will not profane His offer of joy with jaded pessimism.

She hands me the berries.

Light is the radical thing in a dark world.

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And nothing of this world wants any of us to live in real joy.

Because Joy is dangerous — it’s igniting and contagious and otherworldly and it wins demon wars. 

And it’s mere ploy to say joy is Pollyanna– because joy is revolutionary: it goes straight against the way this dark world spins.

“But why are they called chinese lanterns?” She climbs out of the ditch behind me.

And I kneel and I show her:

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“Because inside ….” and I turn the stem….

“…when everything else dries and withers away, there is this seed – this light inside that will scatter, that will multiply everywhere.”

And she points to the light that breaks through all things broken… 

And we gather the grasses and berries and lanterns into arms and walk home through the woods, through a dying, fallen world, —

nothing stopping even the trees from enflaming joy, all glory.

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Related: New winds blowing here and here
How to See God: The Light of Brokenness

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Friday, October 5th, 2012 | Joy Habit