By Sister Rejane Cytacki, SCL
I have spent a lot of time this past December reflecting on the healthy balance we need of darkness and light in our lives. In my current ministry at the Eco-Justice Center, we do both equinoxes and solstices celebrations and it is wonderful to be aware of the natural yearly rhythm of light and dark. Winter Solstice is one of the harder ones for people because it is the longest night of the year and the shortest day. Most people are just ready to recognize there will be more light the next day!
We would rather focus on the light and push aside darkness because it represents fear, depression, evil, hurt, and a slew of other negative terms. Hence all our Christmas lights, street lights, security lights etc to keep the dark away. As a society we have forgotten the importance of darkness. Several positive images come to mind: the seed in the rich dark soil, being outside gazing at the moon and stars, the need for darkness to have a restful sleep, and a baby gestating in her mother’s womb.
As I wrote the script for Eco-Justices's 2017 Winter Solstice celebration someone recommended the book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” by Barbara Brown Taylor. She has a chapter devoted to how light and dark are portrayed in our holy scriptures. During the Christmas season we focus primarily on light, but Taylor has unearthed scriptures that show God is in the darkness. One that struck me in particular was when Moses was ready to go up Mount Sinai a second time God said “I am coming to you in a dense cloud in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.” Moses was chosen to enter the “dazzling darkness” and have a conversation with God. When I think of our Lord Jesus coming into the world, he was born in a cave in Bethlehem in the dark. And when the Magi came to find him 12 days later, they had to travel in the dark in order to follow Jesus' star. Great things happen in the dark, let us be aware of the beauty and gifts of darkness during this winter season.