Witnessing to the Darkness

drones vigilReflection given by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek, MI where they have begun operating drones.

Luke 1:41-47

I am really grateful to be here today. I grew up spending Mondays in Advent at Williams International. So, this feels like just the right place to be.

These days, I find myself turning to Mary as a mother. She raised an incredible son. Mary, what stories did you tell him? What toys did he play with? What reality lived outside your door? What history did you tell him? What God did you pray to? Who despite the world of sexism, militarism, and occupation than they lived under. Raised a son who shared leadership with women, went to the margins to be with people, and lived a nonviolent resistance to a violent system that had him executed.

I long to sit with Mary and Elizabeth and talk about parenting and the world. Especially as a mother myself, raising a white son in a world that values his body over black bodies. That pushes him towards power, wealth, and violence. He is growing up in a world where human beings can sit at computers pushing video game buttons killing the father sleeping beside his son or the children walking to school or the guests at a wedding party.

I think of Mary and Elizabeth and the children jumping for joy in their wombs and of Mary calling out the Magnificat “Rejoice. Rejoice.” How can they rejoice in the midst of the surveillance, occupation, and soon genocide that they live under? When we get to the pink candle of joy in Advent, I always pause questioning it. It feels so hard to sit and honor the darkness and then hear the call to rejoice!

Yet, Mary rejoices! As she travels pregnant to be “counted” by the authorities, knowing the reality of the world around her, she rejoices in its midst.

In Palestine, children dance the Dabka on road blocks, knowing the reality of tear gas and bullets. They rejoice in its midst.

In Pakistan, people are married and celebrate and rejoice, knowing the reality of those hovering drones. They rejoice in their midst.

They know deeply the darkness and death that lives and hovers over their heads. And yet, in the most powerful and courageous act of resistance they choose joy. They fly kites. They find a freedom from the power of death.

We live in a country who does not know the darkness. That refuses to open their eyes to it. All around us is a season of noisy, frienzied shopping afraid to sit in the silence and darkness.

We stand at this base tonight in the darkness. A darkness our country refuses to know. We have come to testify to the darkness. To expose it. To grieve it. To resist it. To know it.

Yet we hold candles knowing that no matter how big the darkness is, it shall not overcome the light. The pink candle holds for us a promise that as we go into the darkness as community, a real, deep, gut-wrenching, belly aching joy emerges and it is inescapable.

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