Marvin Repinski: How do we deal with the shadow side of life?

Published 6:10 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

Each of us works out responses to what is viewed as a hardship in life: Disappointment, disruption or struggle.

Realism soon teaches us that there are shadows, reversals, and situations that literally “try men’s souls” as Thomas Paine once said.

The coming election is a gift our ancestors have given us.

The Christian faith, when received in the balance and thoughtfulness that is within its resources, is not a big answer, or the “Big Answer” to life’s griefs. Yet it has the most satisfying, challenging, open-eyed view to an imperfect world.

John Ruskin wrote a meaningful short essay called “The Music of a Rest.”

“There is no music in a rest” but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody, the music is

broken off here and there by rests and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the theme. God

sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden

pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part

missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the

rest? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if

no breaking place had come between.

Question: Does God write the music of our lives? Be it ours to learn the tune, and not to be

dismayed at the rests. They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody,

not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him,

we shall strike the next note full and clear. If we sadly say to ourselves, there is no music in a rest, let

us not forget there is the making of music in it. The making of music is often a slow and painful

process in life. Listen: eventually music is possible!”

Ruskin was regarded as one of the very bright and compassionate people of his time. English history, especially in the arts, was deeply influenced by his life and thought.

We are students. We are learning lessons every day. I read the Gospels and see both struggle and great beauty. Jesus, I believe, points the way to our wholeness and salvation. Please join me in ever learning his lessons.

One of those lessons is not to give up despite the huge and sometimes muddled challenges. Think, please, of the challenge of explorers.

Read the following story and imagine the deep places and high places that are part of your life.

The deepest part of the world’s oceans is found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Guam. It’s known as the Mariana Trench, and it’s the lowest elevation of the Earth’s crust, estimated to be nearly 36,000 feet deep. That’s nearly seven miles down. To put this in perspective, Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet. If you placed Mount Everest in the deepest crevices of the Mariana Trench, you’d still have more than a mile of water above it.

While multiple attempts have been made to explore the Mariana Trench, only three have been successful. The first was on Jan. 23, 1960, when Jacques Piccard and Donald Walsh courageously climbed into a Swiss-designed, Italian-built submersible boat. The duo descended into the cold darkness at a rate of three feet per second. The descent took nearly five hours. It touched down in the Challenger Deep  — the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.

They spent nearly 20 minutes on the ocean floor — a place where the surrounding water has a pressure of 15,931 pounds per square inch. Despite the immense pressure, Piccard and Walsh were delighted to find a fish that looked like a sole or flounder passing by as well as a shrimp. In the midst of the cold darkness, they discovered life.

Though two other descents  — one in 1996 and another in 2009  — successfully made it to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench, these expeditions were unmanned. Piccard and Walsh remain the only two to have made the journey and experienced the beauty and depths of the Mariana Trench firsthand. Piccard and Walsh are heroes. We can’t fathom going to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but think, “trenches” are offered to us to be our accomplishments!

We may read the Bible with expectation and faith that we have resources to be freed of pressures that defeat us.

There are, in a multitude of lives, people who hold a religious vision and tell us go beyond listening to actually experiencing the Word, truth, and stories of recovery and new goals. Throughout the Old Testament, God called people to festivals and celebrations like Passover and Pentecost, and in the New Testament, Jesus asked His disciples to break bread and drink from the cup in remembrance of Him through Holy Communion. Each of these experiences is a reminder that, for trusting people, a personal presence is “the same as yesterday, today, and forever.

The “shadow side” may, with the gift of faith and hope, turn into a celestial light!