Alison J. Buttrick Patton
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…" - Luke 4:18
I'm not a big fan of scary. Or gory. I choose which movies I will or won't watch based on whether they'll give me nightmares. My spouse is a horror fiction writer (really). I only read some of his stuff (he knows when to steer me clear). At 43, I'm still afraid of the dark. I imagine sentient shadows hovering just out of view, up the dark stairway. I make my children go first.
So, when some church members explained that they'd be skipping the film, Twelve Years a Slave and our group discussion, I found it hard to argue. "I just can't watch that stuff, it's too disturbing." I get it. Our culture bombards us with violent images – real and fictional. Why watch more, when we can choose to stay home?
Only, some folks don't get to choose. Some folks live the nightmares that others only read about. Sometimes, my choice about whether to watch and learn is tangled up in whether those very real nightmares continue, or not.
Jesus never said, "Follow me, and I'll make sure you don't get nightmares." Jesus said, "Follow me, and you'll meet a God who walks with us right through the darkest valley." Not around. Through.
Dear God: Thank you for going ahead of me up the stairs. Please stay close. Give me courage to face the dark and hurtful stuff. When I can't watch, send me other ways to learn, so together we can banish the shadows of human suffering. Amen.
Alison J. Buttrick Patton is the Pastor of Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC, Westport, Connecticut.