To say what you’re going through is but the dark before the dawn would make some sense, but would have you as a mere placid sky-watcher, an observer of celestial events over which you have no control. And besides, I think I better understand now — the desire to build your faith and your life elsewhere is not so much a darkness as a competing light, one I cannot help but think of as a flickering, phosphorescent bulb that lines public school hallways, but which I am sure looks prettier in your eyes. So no, I do not ask you to wait for the dawn. I ask much more. I ask that you step into where you are sure no dawn can be. I don’t ask for you to find peace, I ask for you to run to where you are certain no peace will find you. This is a paradox that rings true in my life, as contradictory as lemonade though it may be. I look at the long line of sins that trails behind me like a bridal train, the uncountable amount of times I’ve told myself “never again,” and the equally uncountable times I’ve failed, and I am absolutely sure that to ask for forgiveness and try again will only lead to bitter disappointment. But then it is to forgiveness and another try that I must run, for hope is not hope unless it is unreasonable, unless it is against all hope, and courage is not courage unless we are quite sure we will die facing the dragon, the doubt and the serpent himself — and we face them nonetheless.
Do you remember watching The Passion? I always cry when Christ is being scourged, but it is not because of the pain being inflicted on him. It is not even the realization that he suffers for my sins that makes me weep. It is that moment, that timeless moment when – reduced to a bleeding, broken, pitiful mass of flesh – Christ stands back up. I cry because it makes no sense, just as incomprehensible as his burning love for us. I truly believe it is that moment – as much as any in his Passion – that saved us all. He stood when it made no sense. Would it anger you to know I believe you are asked to imitate Christ in this – to stand against all reason? I believe this because it is the only way to truly stand. Only when all selfishness and self-interest is gone, only when there is absolutely nothing in it for us, then we truly stand. Then hope is truly hope. Then courage is truly courage. To stand when we know we cannot, that is our call. Would I lose all credibility if I used The Lord of the Rings to further convey my message? I hope not, for you have always been a Frodo Baggins to me, entrusted with a task your friends are in awe of, given a burden we can only whisper about, never carry. But the part that gives me great hope in you is when King Theoden, before the great battle of Minas Tirith, is told that he is hopelessly outnumbered and cannot win. His answer, that fallen human’s answer must be yours. “No. We cannot. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless.” That is giving it another try. That is courage. And just as Aragorn rescued Minas Tirith in the final hour, so will Christ rescue you.