The darkness is something we generally try to avoid. We plug in nightlights which softly shine once the darkness settles in. Street lights stand on duty to illumine a stretch of pavement and concrete when needed. Lamps on timers offer light on cue. Candles are kept on hand for emergency use in a power outage. We are not friends of the darkness. And darkness is not our friend.
When I was young I was often afraid of the dark. I’d hear things. I’d imagine stuff. And I let myself get totally spooked. As I grew older I also grew in faith. I came to trust in an ever-present, watchful, always-on-duty God (Psalm 121). I could sleep. But even though God created darkness to distinguish night from day, God isn’t interested in having us dwell in it. We are people drawn into the light. We are light. And we are called to be light at all hours and in all places.
Barbara McAfee’s CD World of Wonders includes a song about darkness. It’s beautiful. Haunting. Hopeful. The words are:
Every time I go into the darkness I return with fistfuls of jewels. Midnight velvet wraps all around me; stars glitter brilliant above. Dreaming darkness, dreaming light…”
Jewels! Precious treasures! Perhaps we learn in the darkness what we might not have in the light. Like being more trusting. In the book Learning to Walk in the Dark author Barbara Brown Taylor writes about the choice before us all: “do I want the kind of light that shines on things or the kind that shines from them?” Brown reminds us that we do not choose between night and day. There is value in both. Each holds different gifts. And she concludes:
When I wake in the morning, I will give thanks for all the bright gifts that spill forth from the nada of God: sunshine, warmth, and work; faith, hope, and love. What I now know for certain – perhaps the only thing I know for certain – is that while these gifts may arrive by day, they come burnished by darkness… like dazzling stones we have brought back from our shallow caves in the darkness of our pockets. If they do not dazzle in daylight, then what better reminder could we have?
The light was never in the stone. It was in our eyes all along.”
May our fists be filled with jewels and our lives with light! And have you noticed? More light is creeping into our days!