Interreligious, Quotes, Seasons

That Even In Darkness It Is Possible To Create Light …

I belong to a generation that has often felt abandoned by God and betrayed by mankind. And yet, I believe that we must not give up on either. … We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children.  Between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not. I know—I speak from experience—that even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. … There it is. I still believe in man in spite of man.
— Elie Wiesel from Open Heart

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
— Luke 1:78-79

Advent Is Here

For centuries, even millennia, dawn has been a source of wonder and a symbol of hope. But for us modern people?

Given our habits of morning rush-rising, dressing, gulping breakfast, fixing lunches, scrambling to gather everything we and our loved ones need to carry into the day – I wonder how many of us notice the gentle transition from night to day. There is also the matter of artificial light: lamps, street lights, parking lot lights, porch lights and, of course, the ubiquitous holiday lights. (Mea culpa. A tree in my yard is currently dripping with Christmas lights that are probably visible from space!) Indoors, too, we have plenty of light. Does so much light impede our experiencing full darkness and interfere with our truly appreciating the “tender mercy” of dawning light?

Once, no one had light at the flick of a switch. People could not take light for granted the way most of us do today. Dawn was probably a bigger deal for them than it is for us now.

Before I go further, I want to put in a good word for night and for darkness. A great deal of prejudice in our culture stems from the misguided assumption that dark always equals “bad” and light always equals “good.” That simply is not true. The dark holds many gifts. Human life begins in the mysterious dark of the womb. Seeds germinate in the dark nourished by the earth. Night is a time for rest, restoration, and dreaming. By contrast, too much light can make us blind, and sunlight renders the night sky invisible.

However, anyone who has ever spent a long sleepless night plagued by fear, insomnia, hunger, or cold can attest to the miraculous nature of dawn and to the relief its light can bring. We know, all of us, what it means to “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” to feel powerless in the face of depression or grief, or to feel alienated from those around us and cut off from that which gives life.

Perhaps this week you will continue listing signs of hope and wonder in your small advent journal. Perhaps you could also set aside one morning to rise in the dark and watch for the dawn. That would be a good time to offer up to God’s tender mercy something in yourself that longs to be touched by light and to reflect on how you might offer hope to someone else. In your journal, you could jot down those things while you keep watch.

Advent is here! We long for the tender mercy of our God. We wait in eager hope for the dawn from on high to break upon us.

 Gary Lee Parker posted on Lumunos