So here I am, rereading this article with such a great hook of a title, ‘Pope Tells Christians Not to Live Like Bats in Darkness’. Being insomniac, batty and also dark like the Batman of recent years, naturally I’m drawn to this April 24 homily, like moth to a flame, or a bat to an echo beacon.
It appears, Pope Francis was speaking out against ‘funeral Christians’ who prefer sadness to joy, whose life seems like a non-stop funeral and who live like ‘bat Christians’ preferring darkness over the light of the Lord’s presence, afraid of joy and defeated by the cross.
I’m coming out of the closet here, taking tentative steps out from the comforting darkness, to confess that, “YES I’m one of those bat Christians!” Yes, I would like to be all sunshine and joy and this is in fact, one of my new year resolutions … But alas, I’m doing poorly here.
Other than being more than a little eccentric, brooding, with a voice in my head that spouts vitriol; I’m also cynical, pessimistic and mopey. Definitely living like a bat in darkness here!
I think everyone and not just Christians would like to live life joyfully as if it were a nonstop celebration. Many have dissected and discussed the Happiness Index, read about the Bhutanese way of life and I have even watched Pharell’s Happy video 24×7 to understand how to do happy. My mind is quick to buy this, but somehow my emotions and physical self are slow on the uptake. I do not feel the happy buzz, the smile is forced and the manner snarky.
Truthfully, I would give an arm and a leg (or wing) to be bursting with joy and spread happiness as easily as wind pollination or infectious bat droppings. However, I think it would be rather shocking to all if my carefully cultivated Clark Kent alter ego (unfortunately I’m not heir to great fortune like Bruce Wayne) suddenly sports the mega-watt Tom Cruise smile (I’m smirking here) and perhaps get a little euphoric and start jumping on sofas.
It is not that I prefer darkness over light, or sadness over joy, it’s just that over the years, this shield to not feel contentment, nay happiness, has thicken and harden to this impenetrable gloom and doom. The Pope is right. We are afraid of joy. In my case, there has always been this restraint, this self control, to not give in to wild abandonment for fear of the greater fall after an impossible high. Do not be too happy as depression will soon follow!
We are also bat-like in that we try to conform to social mores which today hold in high regard, the wearing of pain and suffering like badge of honour. It’s outside the norm to be happy. Cutting, tattooing and confessing our pain is de rigueur! And so we become colonies of dour sack cloth wearers living life as a nonstop funeral.
And perhaps too, given that blind faith is seen as a negative, we are afraid of believing that God is near, to let go and let God. We let ourselves be beaten and burdened by life’s crosses. By and by, with conditioning over the years, we become distrustful, defeated and disbelieving. We become morose and live in darkness not seeing the light.
The Pope is right. We live like bats in darkness. Hopefully, I can start by letting go my fear of joy and letting in my God of light. Hopefully, with self examination and the will to change, I can transform myself from a bat Christian to a better one.