It’s understandable that we celebrate the coming of the light at Christmas. In the build up to the celebration of the Nativity we light an Advent candle each Sunday and already tree lights and decorations are twinkling in windows and public places.
But without the dark there is no light. The darker it is, the more we can see the stars. Both the light and the darkness are a stimulus to spiritual growth. As the Buddhist saying goes, “No mud, no lotus.”
Talking of mud, what could be a darker place than under the earth. Yet what is happening at this very minute? Life among the insects, fungi and plants is stirring. Some will continue their journey in the dark, others will make their way to the surface.
The dark earth is a place of fertility and richness and a place of gestation and growth. It’s also a place where things are hidden and waiting for us to find. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
The light and the dark are complementary partners in stimulating our spiritual growth. For the mystic, John of the Cross, a mystic who emphasised the way of darkness, even in the darkness “bright flows the river of God”. The darkness was not for him frightening or demonic, but an intimate, safe darkness. Like the intimate darkness of a room where two friends are sharing time together.
the light and the dark