I've always loved darkness. The crisp, cold dark of winter, the thick, warm darkness of sleep, the pre-dawn darkness that shrouds the morning. Sound creepy? Nah... it's creative. Think about it. All things good, true, and worthy of our contemplation spring from darkness.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss...
It seems darkness is the prerequisite of light. The very stars we love to count sprang from the dark womb of the universe. The flowers and trees we marvel over were born in the seed crushing stillness under the earth; in the wet, dark fodder of fecundity that lies beneath our feet.
Our lives began in darkness. We squirmed and struggled, wound and wrapped up in tiny balls of pulsating blood, brain, bone and tissue, and spirit breathed fresh into that darkness from God, in the wombs of our mothers. Our spiritual birth comes so often from the darkness of doubt and of fear, leaping up from the great Whys we shout up to Heaven throughout our lives, from the darkest of moments. Light and clarity come into the tangled shadows of our own minds, our own clumsy attempts to move about in darkness.
St. John of the Cross once said "If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark."
Abraham moved in the darkness.
Jacob wrestled in the darkness.
Joseph looked up from a darkened cistern.
Perhaps Moses saw that Burning Bush because of the darkness that surrounded it?
Mary was overshadowed....
Joseph dreamed in the darkness.
Jesus sweat blood in the shadows of Gethsemane, and died under the cover of clouds on the darkest of days.
The singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman sings "Maybe I'd see much better by closing my eyes."
Maybe in these dark, quiet December days, we'd do well to have a night unplugged, and move away from the tinsel and the lights, the malls and the Christmas movies, just for a night. And for a time, just sit in the dark. In the deep cold stillness like the cave in Bethlehem, where Love came wrapped in shadows. The Love that is the Light of the World.
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