This edition of Sojourners went to press just as the U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan began, which makes this special issue even more critical. Regular responses to fast-changing events can be found on www.sojo.net and in SojoMail.
Lighting candles at prayer vigils is something many of us have done more times than we can remember. Speaking the language of darkness and light at interfaith services, in liturgical seasons, and in the streets has become a matter of habit. But our darkness feels very real and powerful in this moment-almost impenetrable, and threatening to close in on us. And our need for the light feels most urgent.
Old familiar spiritual words must take on a new reality for us now, and a new sense of mission. Words like "Let there be light!" And "A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." We must not just light candles now; we must make a new commitment.
More than we knew before Sept. 11, there are many dark places in the world where unspeakable terrorist violence against large numbers of innocent people is being planned. Those places must be exposed to the light of day and the violence be thwarted. There are dark places within us and in our nation that might lash out from our deep woundedness, grief, and anger, carelessly inflicting more pain on innocent people. The light of compassion and reason must prevent us from spreading our pain.