Do you remember the story of Jonah and the whale? Due to his reluctance to tell God's offer of redemption to the Ninevites, he tries to run away. In doing so he eventually is swallowed by a whale which brings him to the shores of these people. Meanwhile he spends three days inside this great animal.
While waiting in the darkness he has time to think. We, too, at times spend much time in darkness. The hurt feelings and grudges we carry for years weigh us down and eat at us. We are the ones who suffer the most. It does not hurt the other person as the Ninevites were not hurt by Jonah's reluctance, only Jonah was. We can be damaged spiritually, relationally, emotionally and physically. We are the ones spending time in the darkness, we are the ones imprisoned.
Like Jonah, we sit outside the city, angry and separating ourselves from God and others. But there is a way out. We can choose to let go of our hurts and move on. As in the story of Jonah, God offers us love and compassion. It is this that heals us and allows us to move out of the darkness. It does not change the fact that we are hurt, it does not mean that we weren't right to be angry, but it moves us beyond that into a different place where we can go on.
Can we imagine how much healing we could bring to ourselves and our broken world if we could fully accept God's love? How much more loving and generous we could be with others if we could learn to be more loving and generous to ourselves? In a world that at times is tearing itself apart, these could be the most important questions we ask ourselves at the beginning of this new year. Amen.