Caitlin: During the season of Advent, I have a really hard time with how we talk about darkness, equating it with sin and evil, as though darkness isn’t created by and beloved of God. Especially because of how this is used to support white supremacy. So, I am going to be sharing some reflections on how great darkness is during Advent. Feel free to add your favourite things about darkness or how you embrace it this time of year.
Advent is a season of darkness. In the darkness of night your nocturnal creation awakes. In the darkness of winter we see your creation without the harsh light of the Sun. Give us new eyes to see this world in all its beauty.
“You make the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.” Psalm 104:19-20.
God created darkness. In this first week of Advent we think of the beauty of darkness as a part of God’s creation and we remember those plants and animals harmed by the endless day we have made with our artificial lights.
Mary Ann: When my kids were little, and scared of the dark, I said it was like a cosy hug that comes in close, embracing you while you sleep. And so it is. I like the darkness.
HD: Adam Tice has a wonderful hymn “Come, Spirit of Darkness and Light” which explores expansive imagery like this.
Black is the panther, and black is the fly;
Black is the pupil of everyone’s eye;
Black is the night; with the stars shining through.
Black is a gift, may God give it to you.
Celia: I like the darkness because it encourages us to hold on to each other. People don’t often get enough physical touch these days. I like the dark months.
CB: I fully agree with your sentiments here. It is in darkness that the seed germinates, that new life is started. It is in darkness that we rest, recover and rejuvenate. And with this in mind, looking at the hectic holiday season we have created in contemporary times, we end up at Christmas exhausted, broke and often overwhelmed because we are so focused on everything except embracing the darkness. It isn’t such a contemplative time when we would otherwise plan for growth as the sun returns. Having agrarian experience makes this easier to do, but the need for a meaningful season is obvious in society overall. In my estimation, the longer the season of celebration, the more vacuous the actual meaning of the holiday is. Thus, the roll from Pumpkin-spiced Lattes into a month-long Halloween, two months of Christmas, a week of New Years, and a mix of Valentines and Easter Cream Eggs for much of winter-spring.
WW: I love the darkness, it’s better for candles and coziness.
NM: Reading Catholic science and religion writer Judy Cannato, your post, sent me off in another direction, thinking about how narrowly we define light – the bright light we see, without any attention to any of the ‘dark’ lights on the spectrum that are not visible to us, without even getting into all the glories of shading . . . which got me thinking about how light / dark is such an unhelpful binary, as binaries are oft wont to be.
AA: I cannot stop talking about THIS very subject with N! We are even doing a concert of dark and light next January with texts that speak of the beauty and glory of darkness as much as possible.
MP: I love the dark. I love the coziness and the warmth. There is a lovely line in Evening prayer the new Iona Abbey Worship Book which says this: “What if the darkness covers us and the day around us turns to night? Darkness is not too dark for God to whom dark and light are one.”
MS: The image we are given of “Hell” the place without God, is of an eternal, fierce fire – that ain’t dark, is it?
Laurel: A friend just shared this from Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston: ‘It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands . . . They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.’
MC: I agree with your friend who points to times of darkness as being times of incubation, rest for the sake of ecological refreshment, and an important season for renewal and rebirth. Might we also need a little bit of darkness to turn off the computer, get away from the neon and noise and just sit in contemplation with a God who formed the world out of darkness? Check out the image of Christ that accompanied Richard Rohr’s weekly meditations this week—Janet McKenzie’s painting Body and Blood. Just who is it, again, that we worship and adore?
The above is a lightly edited and referenced online conversation initiated by Caitlin Beck. Caitlin Reilley Beck is a fat, queer, genderqueer settler who lives on stolen Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh land, but is originally from Ottawa in Algonquin territory. Caitlin’s ancestors are from all over Europe, but include French Huguenots, Polish Jews and Irish Catholics. Caitlin is currently the Camp Director for Queerest and Dearest, an intergenerational camp for LGBTQIA2S+ Christian people and their families.