4 Lent A: The Salt Mines
I recently went on the tour of the salt mines in Hutchinson
You take an elevator 650 feet down
Into a space that is completely devoid of light and sound
And is a constant 68 degrees all the time.
It is what I imagine an isolation tank is like
One of the tours, called The Dark Tour,
Involves sitting in an electric jeep with a guide and five other people
And driving into the maze of mine shafts
Looking at the history that is preserved there.
At one point in the tour, the guide stops the jeep
Turns off the lights and engine
And you sit, in total darkness,
For fifteen years
Which was actually only 30 seconds.
But in that period of complete darkness:
You are entirely self oriented
Nothing exists except you
Your own heartbeat in your ears
Your own breath in your lungs.
It is so dark and so silent
That for a moment you think you are entirely alone
No one else is visible
No one else is important.
You. Are. It.
Rev. Canon Shay Craig 2
Also, in those moments of complete darkness:
There is no time.
You really do not know how long you’ve been sitting there
There is no external measure of time passing
And you can convince yourself that time is not passing
Or that time is crawling
Or that time is racing
Which is why I joked that it might have been fifteen years.
And, finally, in that darkness
There is no landscape
You can’t see where you are in relation to anything or anyone else
There is no knowing how close you are to the exit
Or how far you’ve come
There is no relative distance
There is no big picture.
You are in your head
In your skin
Floating in space
From moment to moment.
This is a feeling, actually, that is very familiar right now.
In the days since Corona Virus has come on the scene
We have become people of darkness.
Which is a reasonable and sensible precaution
Rev. Canon Shay Craig 3
Has been weaponized. We use it to keep ourselves from illness
“Stand back, I don’t know where you’ve been”
Not, “I want to keep you safe”
Or “Lets keep each other safe”
In the darkness we are concerned only with ourselves.
Another sign of the darkness is
That we are seeing is epic hoarding
of food and hand sanitizer and paper products
We stockpile things in ridiculous proportions
Because people of darkness have no sense of time
They cannot imagine that there will be a time when this is over
And you’ll have to store that toilet paper for years to come
And people of darkness
Cannot see the wider landscape
The countries in which the virus first emerged
Are seeing fewer and fewer cases every day.
People of darkness cannot see
There is an exit sign in the distance.
The first chapter of the Gospel of John tells us
The light shines in the darkness
And the darkness has not overcome it.
That is the big picture.
In our Gospel this morning, the people of darkness
Are not the blind person
But the neighbors and pharisees and even the disciples
Rev. Canon Shay Craig 4
They are concerned at first with how this man became blind
And then with how he became sighted
But Jesus is not the least bit interested in those questions
His focus is on the man
He heals the man
The neighbors and jewish leaders and disciples
All of them are asking
The wrong question
It is not a question of HOW
It is a question of WHO
Not HOW did this happen
But WHO is affected?
And this is the way to be people of light
And not people of darkness
By focusing not on HOW
Not “How did you get exposed”
Not “How will the virus get here”
Not “How can I get what I need”
But rather focusing on WHO
Who is at risk?
Who is frightened, sick, impacted by the economic slowdown?
Who should I call and check on?
Who can I pray for?
Rev. Canon Shay Craig 5
Children of light
Get out of their own heads
They ask not “How can I protect myself?’
But WHO needs my protection.
Children of Light can see the bigger picture
Asking not “How can I get what I need
But WHO has needs I can meet?
And Children of light are not stuck in time
We have been in diaspora before
And God sent Jesus Christ
The Light into the World
To be our help and salvation
Then and now and always.
We know who we are
We are Children of a loving and grace filled God
We are children of a God who is present in suffering
We are children of a God who hears our prayers
We are children of a God who has equipped us
to get through this and any crisis
But it is not by asking How
It is by asking Who
Once you were children of darkness
But now, in the Lord
You are light.
Live as children of light
Rev. Canon Shay Craig 6
For the fruit of light is found
In all that is good and right and true.