February 2, 2015
The past few days have been full of images: paintings, stories and conversations about light and darkness. In the final scene of the TV series True Detective that I watched on Saturday there was a lengthy discussion of light and dark that summarized themes that had been referenced throughout the 8-episode story. Also, in a Sunday morning class discussion on the idea of painful self-probing and the attributes of God, there was a vivid contrast. Then, during the sermon teaching on grace there was a reference to the Vacquez painting of the crucifixion of Jesus, which was the dark day in human history.
In our visual culture where most of us are learning through pictures and images, the contrast of dark and light always gives us an undeniable truth concerning the world in which we live.
Rust Kohle, one of the two central characters in True Detective, said that he had been thinking about what this investigation had been about. That it had been part of a bigger story. What he called, “The oldest story.” When asked what that was, he replied, “The story of light versus darkness.”
In the final scene of season one of the HBO series True Detective, there is a lengthy conversation [NSFW-language] in the parking lot of a hospital in Louisiana between detectives Rust Kohle and Marty Hart. Kohle in a wheelchair has been convalescing after surviving a horrific stabbing by the serial killer they had spent 15 years trying to find. As they gaze up at a cloudless night sky, Rust says that while healing in bed he had been musing as to what their investigation was really about. He said that the investigation had drawn them into a bigger story – a story about light versus dark.
In the simplest of terms, this is the story of all of our lives. Are we moving toward the light? Or, are we moving toward darkness? There is a trajectory to our lives, perhaps like the stars in the dark Louisiana sky. The darkness seems massive and the stars are tiny in comparison. Are we letting the light creep in or are we being overcome by the darkness?
In the painting by the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, there is darkness all around, too. The light in the painting is reserved for and focused in Jesus who is overcoming the darkness with the light of a ransom-paying sacrifice. He is rescuing all of humanity from the darkness.
In the same way the final words of True Detective reveal a truth, Rust said, “If you ask me, the light’s winning.”
We make choices from time to time that move us closer to the light or deeper into the darkness. Clarity and purity are experienced as we move into the light and confusion and contamination as we shift toward the darkness.
So, in humility and ascent, we surrender our hearts to the Light of creation. For we hope that as we move toward the light we will experience transformation. We become new creations shedding the layers of darkness and becoming, as it were, our greatest selves: all that for which we were created and the journey for which we were equipped through the magic of substitutionary grace given to us by the death (dark) and resurrection (light) of Jesus.