Dear Horizon Family,
I hope this letter reaches every single person in our large, spread out Horizon family. From parents, to cook, to security, to farmer, to alumnae, to donors and even to the children old enough to read it – my heart goes out to all of you putting yourselves at risk to keep the children and your own families safe. This crisis is a family crisis. It is not just reaching nations. It is touching those we love the most. It is separating loved ones. It is driving a level of fear into families not seen in generations. Unless…
Unless you have known the dark in your life. Dark light. It’s an oxymoron. A contradiction. How is it possible that darkness and light can coexist or not be possible without the other?
I was walking through the grocery store yesterday to get a few things we had not been able to get since all of the panic hit. Walking down the aisles it was hard to imagine that I was in America. Shelves half empty. Basic necessities completely gone. If I closed my eyes I could have been in Zimbabwe, or India, maybe Uganda or Democratic Republic of Congo. But no, I was right here at home in America. Is it possible that the same suffering most of the world knows on a daily basis has reached our very own shores?
Well I wouldn’t say that yet. But what I would say is that we are getting a glimpse. My entire career I’ve had the privilege of knowing people as friends who have shown me, taught me, what true faith is. In the middle of squalor. Very little on the “shelves.” Not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Having real reasons to fear every day. I have seen this true definition of faith in their lives: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
I have known dark days in my life, especially as a boy. But I had never known faith until these friends showed me how pain and joy, sacrifice and contentment, faith and fear, light and dark could coexist in the heart of someone who trusted more in God than their own strength or in the type of relief the world was offering. In times like this do we put our faith in the homes we live in? The jobs we have? The money in the bank? In the government perhaps? All of those are important, yes. But they are not our hope.
In this dark hour we still have a choice. Will we only see the darkness around us? Will we let it get us down and cause us to give up? Will we try to get busy, doing things we think will fix it, only to end up stumbling around in the dark getting nowhere? There is real suffering going on. I know some of you, most of you, reading this are wondering about family you can’t be with. You are wondering what will happen to your children if you get sick. There are dreams you have, that you wonder if will now vanish. You might even wonder if there will be food next week. What will happen to my children if school does not start? These are all very real.
We are in a season now where who we are, where we come from, what we have, and what we dream have all been brought to the same level. Tragedy is the great equalizer. Right now we are all just human beings in a fight of faith. We say the fight is against an invisible enemy. But perhaps an even greater enemy is the one within. Remember Jacob chose to fight the mysterious angel and he was changed to Israel. He refused to leave the fight without a blessing. We can choose to stay isolated in the dark and just want the old to be restored. Or we can choose the blessing. And the blessing, as Richard Rohr states, is this: “The best thing to do when you are flattened by despair is to spend time in a community where despair is daily bread.” By going to the dark we will find the light. Enlightenment comes through “endarkenment.” Where is suffering the greatest? Go there. We may not be able to go there physically right now but ask ourselves what can we do for those whose daily bread before this crisis was isolation and despair and who after it is gone will still be in isolation and despair. After this crisis is over there will be many people who haven’t known true despair added to these ranks. Dark will be forced upon them. How will they learn to see light unless we enter their darkness?
This may seem a mystery to those of us who are privileged every day to be in what we think is the light. Those who know and have known the dark understand. Horizon exists because darkness is all that orphaned children have known and will know unless someone brings them out of the shadows. So you, who continue to stay faithful in your jobs, are already practicing what I’m saying. Losing one’s belonging in the world is perhaps the greatest darkness of all. It happened to me, and I was in darkness a long time before love broke through. You are bringing light by helping them find their belonging again. Horizon will survive this. But when we come out of it we need to be ready. When we come out of this, Horizon will be a different organization. I believe we will find a way to bring light to thousands and thousands more children who today have no hope. I believe we will be better for having gone through this darkness. Our family will be stronger. So, for now, we must wrestle in the dark together. But I know, by faith, that the blessing awaits.
You are loved.
Your friend and fellow traveler,