Can we see beyond the darkness?

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Deacon Mike Stewart
Deacon Mike Stewart

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." --Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Last week, the world lost a great beacon of hope in Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In some ways, it seems that the timing of his death is just as great a loss for the world as his death itself.

This South African Anglican bishop, theologian and activist represented a great light in a world that doesn’t seem to offer much hope in the future. Though certainly controversial, his life was shaped by all that he had experienced as a black man during the time of apartheid in South Africa. Though he had every reason to give up hope in the future, his life was a testament to looking beyond the darkness.

You and I now turn the page on another year. I don’t know about you, but a new year always leaves me with this odd tension between excitement for what is to come, and at the same time, fear of the unknown. Do you remember how eager we all were to say goodbye to 2020, particularly as it presented us with a pandemic most of us fully expected to be over by the end of 2021? Do you remember the calendar burning parties last New Years Eve?

In this new year, I’m more concerned about us burning hope rather than calendars. I’m less concerned about shortages of toilet paper, microchips and COVID testing kits than I am about us failing to see that ‘light’ that Archbishop Tutu challenged us to look for despite the darkness. I hear the darkness in people’s voices; I read it in their words; I sense it in their silence; there is despair where once there was hope, even in some of the most hopeful people I know.

I’m reminded that hope is a virtue, but it is not a virtue native to us humans. Hoping to win the lottery is not the same as hoping that the pandemic will end, or that those we love will be spared. One involves luck; the other involves faith and trust.

Hope is made possible only through the grace of God. Archbishop Tutu drew often on that help; he lived through times of intense darkness in the world, where all hope seemed lost, and yet he only intensified the message, don’t lose hope; there is Light beyond the darkness. And indeed there is.

If you ask God for anything in this new year, perhaps the place to start is to ask for an unwavering hope. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. Hebrews 10:23

Deacon Mike Stewart serves the communities of St. Mary’s, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary Catholic Central High School, and Monroe Catholic Elementary Schools. He can be reached at

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Can we see beyond the darkness?