As December begins, we start to approach the darkest day of the year when we have the least daylight and most of our time is spent in darkness. This contrast between light and darkness forms so many of our everyday expressions and idioms such as “the darkest hour is right before dawn”, “the dark night of the soul”, and “darkest hour”. All of these expressions show that in darkness things are hard, heavy, and there is no sight and no hope. When we are in the dark even a little light makes a big difference.
Recently I was participating in an online art class and the teacher was talking about color, but she said something so profound about darkness and light. This is a paraphrase of what she was teaching and talking about
“Dark on dark is nothing, and light on light is nothing. Dark and light form all of our expression.”
This is true in so much more than simply learning how to create art. In our lives the contrast of darkness brings forth the light. If there was no darkness in our lives, would we even recognize or long for the light?
The time of year we observe Christmas is the darkest time of the year; yet it is a celebration of all things light. We have lights outside, lights inside, special candles and whole occasions devoted to turning on the lights. We are observing the very birth of the light of the world. Jesus tells us in John 8 and in John 9, “I am the light of the world”. If our world was not so dark, would we even recognize the light?
In a very dark room in the middle of the night even one lone tealight is instantly recognizable and easy to find. In the middle of summer on the beach it would be impossible to find the same tealight unless you were standing next to it. The light is always stronger than the dark and cannot overcome it.
In both literal and symbolic ways these are dark times to live in. The light is short, things are unclear, heavy, and difficult. This is the exact same state of the world that the light came into as a baby born more than 2,000 years ago. Today things are much the same but as things darken light will shine so clearly out from amidst the darkness. Watch for it, look for it, when you find it, have joy and delight in it. Light is never as welcome as it is to the one stumbling in a dark place.