Even though I got out of work early enough, by the time I made the long trip from Hillsboro to Washougal through rush hour traffic, it was a very dark night by the time I arrived at my destination, which I had never been to before, even though it was not that late at night. It was, of course, even darker by the time I made it home from Washougal to Southeast Portland, where I live. Although I had written out the directions to my destination, it was a somewhat tense and uncertain matter driving in the dark night in areas one does not know at all to an uncertain destination. Such a fate is one that is not dissimilar from the course of my life, an uncertain but persistent march on unknown roads towards a destination I do not know by sight but continue to seek nevertheless.
What led me to Washougal this evening? As is often the case, it is matter that is somewhat complicated and a bit of a long story, the outlines of which are nevertheless worth discussing at least briefly. For some months I have been dealing with a rather awkward situation that has been largely due to my own initial massive folly as well as the somewhat predictable and unsurprising repercussions of it. Given that situation and its repercussions, I felt it necessary to bring it to the attention of the coach of our congregation’s volleyball team, who I assist in helping the teens improve their skills for the winter sports season here in the Pacific Northwest in our church league, as I felt it necessary to have his own personal confidence. The end result was a long and very personal conversation where I avoided naming names, but made the points clear enough and discussed some actions to take in response as I await the time necessary to demonstrate my honorable character to others who do not happen to know me very well.
About seven or eight years ago, I write a play called “Dark Night Of The Soul.” Without going into too many details about the play itself, it was part of a series of plays dealing with a family where fathers died young and sons were left to fend for themselves in German speaking early Modern Europe in an atmosphere of religious tension, ultimately leading to the flight of the family to Pennsylvania. “Dark Night Of The Soul” was the second play in terms of the time scale of the series, examining the last 24 hours in the life of an orphaned young man who had grown up into a principled and reformist Catholic priest with one fatal flaw–a devoted love to a much younger lady, who had borne him a child secretly. The play was, as might be expected, a tragedy, but it did not have to be so. With a bit more self-restrained, the fatal flaw need not have been fatal, and an otherwise deeply honorable man would not have had something that led to his destruction.
Our lives are based in large part on our choices. Often our choices come with a lot of context, a backstory that is certainly easy to make sense of but one that is not always reflected on ahead of the time. For example, what has happened to me here in Portland has been fairly predictable, and not very surprising, in light of the life I have lived and in light of the context I came into without a great deal of prior knowledge at all. If we choose, we can take our experiences and learn from them, and grow from them, and take what appropriate steps are necessary since we are not often wise enough to avoid problems in the first place. All one can do in the middle of our difficulties is to make it out on the other side, to do our best to keep from hurting or harming other people, and to do whatever is necessary to grow and mature ourselves and behave towards others in a loving and kind-hearted matter. If that is not enough, it is the best we can do while we endure the dark nights of our souls.