It was pitch dark when it all began, when an old man hobbled out into the blackness. The memory of light had all but nearly faded. And a voice like a storm spoke and said ‘I will make it light again’. And the old man asked, ‘How will you make it light when it is so dark? When I am so dark?’ And the voice said, ‘I will make you shine and I will make your descendants shine. And I will fill the darkness with light like billions of suns shining in glory.’ And the old man smiled, took a deep breath, slowly exhaled, and said, ‘I’m in.’ And at that moment a small spark seemed to begin glowing somewhere inside the old man. The voice said, ‘Good. It will hurt, but when I am finished, you will understand and it will be more beautiful than you ever imagined.’ The voice showed the old man a vision of animals broken in pieces with fire passing between them. ‘It will be kind of like that with you and your children.’ And the old man swallowed and nodded and said, ‘Yeah, I kind of figured that.’
The old man had a wife, and when he told her the plan to walk into the unknown darkness and be broken open in order to make the world light again, she nodded and squeezed her husband’s hand and said, ‘I will go with you.’ Now the old man’s wife was also very old, and they had no children. But the voice said that he would show them a picture of how the world would become light again by bringing a child out of her darkness. The old woman laughed, but within a year she broke open and a child came into the world. ‘See?’ the voice asked, ‘Do you see how I can break you open and make life? It will be kind of like that until the end of the world, until the whole universe is filled with light, until all of the darkness is swallowed up in light.’ The old man and his wife both nodded.
A few years later the voice said, ‘Now take your son, your only son, up to a certain mountain that I will show you.’ And the old man knew what was coming. He took a deep breath, and nodded silently. And the next morning he left with his son. When they came to the place, the old man drew his knife to break open his son, but the voice called to him and said, ‘Good. I see that you understand. Now let this ram take his place. Your son will be broken open in his time, but you must understand one more thing. You must understand how my light comes to shine in dark hearts. It comes by another, like this ram. You must be all in.’ And the old man nodded and said, ‘I’m all in.’ And the voice said, ‘Very good. I have mountains for all of your children. They are all different, but designed with each in mind. At the top of each one, I will break them open so that they will shine and their brightness will begin to swallow up the darkness. And in a few years I will send another, my own beloved son, and he will be a ram, and by his light all of your descendants will shine.’
And so this man walked around in the dark for many years, but as his steps slowed and faltered, as the darkness struck him and tore at him, he glowed brighter and brighter. And likewise his wife. After many years, the old man buried his wife with tears running down his face, but she went off like a roman candle in the night sky. And he followed a few years later, and already, you could begin to make out your hand in front of your face. And now the old man’s children and grandchildren began to glow too. The voice called many of them to burn in the furnace of affliction for many years, but as the darkness came against them, it only made them glow hotter. And they left the dark grave of slavery behind for a new land that needed light more than ever. Some of the old man’s children refused to commit. It hurt to be lit on fire, to be torn open. They doubted that it would really work, and so the darkness swallowed them.
But down through the centuries, the descendants of the old man and the old woman grew in number. A dozen became millions: young children, old men and women, walking around in the darkness, glowing in the dark. And the voice called them to their mountains one by one, into battle, into childbirth, into slavery, to sit in dungeons, to sit beside kings, and as they listened to the voice, as they believed, their faces grew brighter and brighter. And one by one, they burst open in sparks and flames, thundering like cannons, and the first shades of dawn began etching the grey shapes of a world against the sky.
Then the voice came, his son came, a young man with eyes full of light, and there was no darkness in him at all. And the darkness hated him because he was full of light. And the darkness thought that if all the darkness in the world was gathered together and struck him and killed him — then it would put an end to the light once and for all. And so the darkness assembled: the anger, the lust, the lies, the treachery, the betrayals, the hatred, the bitterness, the adulteries, the murders, the perversions of every sort — it gathered together in the hearts of men and women and children, and the voice permitted it all to come crashing down upon his own beloved son. It paraded him through the streets. It mocked him and jeered him. It taunted him. It spat on him. And then the darkness hung him up shamefully on the top of a mountain. It pounded with all its might with the stakes of greed and envy and blasphemy. It pounded like a hurricane, like an earthquake, like a cancer, like a stillborn child. And then it was finished. And there was nothing more the darkness could give. Nothing more the darkness could do. And the man who is the ram, the son, bore it all. He was struck. He was crushed. He was broken open on the mountain. And blood and water poured out. And they took his lifeless corpse and buried it in the ground and rolled a stone over him. And the children of that first old man all held their breath, waiting.
What seemed like forever was just three days, and early on the morning of that third day, the earth rumbled and shook and that side of the world exploded, launching fire into the sky, like a lightening bolt that wouldn’t quit, like fireworks of every color that do not fade but keep growing brighter and more brilliant, filling up the night sky. And somehow when people hear of that dark day and the explosion that followed, they are hearing that same ancient voice like a storm, and when they believe in the light of his son, their ram, the light of his son fills their hearts across all space and time and drives away all their darkness. And everyone filled with that magnificent light is destined to go off like him. They know how the voice breaks them open and makes them shine like the sun at high noon.
And sometimes as they lay in their beds at night you can see them grinning from ear to ear as they wonder what color they will be when they shoot into the sky. They wonder which mountain will be theirs and they hope it will be loud and bright and echo through the hills. It’s getting lighter every minute, as they go off one by one like rockets into the dying night. For the sun is on the rise, the day is fast approaching, and they are heralds of that dawn. Lives are filling up with that light so that whenever the voice calls, they will be ready to answer, ready to break open, ready to shine with the weight of his glory.