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Always Speak Light to Life’s Darkness

It was several years ago we heard the sad news of a comedic genius death in the person of Robin Williams. I was talking to someone about Robin Williams and they were telling me they remember him from TV, but they only saw the shows in re-runs. I told them that I was old enough to remember seeing it in its original season. Anyone who has been on the planet and watched TV or went to the movies, saw talk shows and news programs have seen Robin Williams. He was born in Chicago on July 21, 1951, studied theater at Julliard School before taking his stand-up act to nightclubs. He was cast as Mork, an alien visitor to Earth, for a 1978 episode of television’s “Happy Days.” The role led to the spin-off show “Mork & Mindy.” He proved his dramatic acting skills in “Good Will Hunting,” a 1997 film that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar. His memorable movies included “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Birdcage.”

Williams credited the influence of Jonathan Winters’ comic irreverence and quirky characters as a great influence on his comedy. The connection between the two was completed when Winters was cast on “Mork & Mindy.”

Many of Williams’ co-stars and Hollywood contemporaries expressed their shock and grief. One constant theme: No matter his demons, Williams was warm, sweet, generous, compassionate, humane.

President Barack Obama’s statement sent from the White House that year summed it up: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien–but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our street.”

It has been reported that he had a number of challenges that included alcohol, drugs, depression, and other issues. The truth is we all have issues. Our issues may not be as well publicized, but no one that I know of is without issues. It is my understanding that at some point he surrendered to his issues.

There’s a wonderful scripture in the Bible that starts in Genesis 1:1 and it says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep …” To me that scripture says that the world was dark and the darkness was deep seated. I believe that a lot of our lives are filled with darkness, and a lot of it is deep seated. The darkness is our issues in life. We don’t have the same issues, but we all have some issues.

I try to teach that new moments in life present the letter “Y.” What I mean by that is a straight line that leads to a crossroad where your life can go in two different directions — you can surrender to the darkness or you challenge the darkness. I am sad to admit that sometimes I have been at that crossroad and considered surrendering to the darkness. It seemed like at that moment it was the quickest way out of my present pain. Someone has said suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. The other side of the “Y” is challenging the darkness, refusing to allow the darkness to control your life. What did God do when faced with deep-seated darkness over his world? Because if he framed his world by speaking words, maybe we can frame our world by the words we speak when faced with darkness! According to verse 3 of Genesis chapter 1 the next three words are paramount. The next three words say in that verse, “And God said …” What are you saying when faced with your darkness? Are you agreeing or are you challenging? Which side of the “Y” are you on? You have three choices, stay where you are, agree with the darkness, or challenge the darkness. In verse 3, I believe God challenged the darkness by saying, “Let there be light …”

The question is not what did Robin Williams do in his hour of darkness, but the question is what would we do in our hour!

A total of 39,518 people took their own lives in 2011. Statistics released showed an alarming spike in their suicide rate between 1999 and 2010. The suicide rate for white men increased by nearly 40 percent. Men account for only 20 percent of suicide attempts but represent about 30 percent of completed suicides. I wonder what happened with the suicide rate in 2020 with Covid-19.

This event has inspired me to look more closely at the challenges of depression, drugs, alcohol, and life. This article will make a poor attempt at trying to deal with it all. If I am allowed, I will take the next several articles to deal with how to challenge the darkness in our own lives. I regret that I have had to challenge the darkness in my life more than once, and when you are in your hour of darkness unreasonable things seem reasonable. Psychologists tell us that 90 percent of our actions are prompted by emotions … versus only 10 percent by reason.

I would like to suggest ways to help us deal with this issue in our future articles. Until then, speak light to your darkness!

The Rev. Darrell W. Cummings is pastor of Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Temple in Weirton.

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