Christmas darkness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
I’m writing this while staying up late, watching the lunar eclipse with Jonathan. The moon, lightly veiled by clouds, but still visible, is slowly swallowed by darkness. Life is sometimes like that.

I’m keeping vigil. Not that the moon needs me to make it through the darkness, just that it feels right to keep it company and bless its darkness.

It’s the winter solstice. Not since 1638, 465 years ago, has an eclipse come on the winter solstice. (A fascinating aside: scientists don’t know the next time this will happen. They’re in the dark.) This is the year’s shortest day, the day of the most darkness. From now on, the days are getting longer. The darkness is slowly swallowed by light.

Dualistic thinkers see here a battle between good and evil. But darkness is not evil. It’s just a place where we can’t see, that’s all. And it’s not a battle. It’s a dance. They both surge in and out, back and forth, turning around each other. The darkness shines in the light, and the light cannot overcome it.

Paradoxically, although the winter solstice promises the return of the light, it marks the beginning of winter. Even as it’s getting lighter it’s getting colder. Dark and light, warmth and cold balance each other, complete each other, need each other. Life is sometimes like that.

It wouldn’t be the Christmas story without the darkness. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream. Magi follow a star in the night sky. The heavenly host comes to shepherds watching their flock by night. God comes to us in our darkness. God accompanies us in our darkness, and blesses it.

When you love those who suffer, you can’t necessarily abolish their darkness. But you can keep vigil. You can accompany them and bless their night.

Don’t be afraid to enter the darkness. Grace happens there. God is there. And there, in the darkness, you can see the light return. In the darkness, light shines.

As it turns out, clouds swallowed the eclipse. We didn’t see much. But it was fun to stay up and watch together. Life is like that. And so is God.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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