Since the arrival of my son, I’ve seen more hours of darkness than usual, and it got me thinking about whether darkness is all bad. There is something about those silent hours in the dead of night that have a kind of peace to them (except when the baby is screaming!)
So often, darkness is demonised, and yet we need it. We need the darkness of night as much as we need the light of day and many beautiful things have their beginnings in the darkness. As Barbara Taylor Brown writes in her excellent book “Learning to Walk in the Dark”
“New life starts in the dark whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb.”
It seems obvious when you think about it, Jesus wasn’t resurrected in the sunshine, but in the darkness of the tomb, flowers need the darkness of the ground to bloom, babies need the comforting darkness of the womb to grow before they face the light of the world.
Darkness wasn’t created, it’s an absence not a presence – but God didn’t eliminate it from the creation He called ‘good’. Perhaps it’s because, as Psalm 139 recounts, “Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.”
So I wonder if it’s time to rethink darkness, to the wonder and potential that it holds. The late poet Mary Oliver understood a little of this I think when she wrote the words:
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
What can we learn in the darkness, that we couldn’t learn in the light?
In the darkest days of depression, I learned to lean on God in ways I never would have done without it and I’m reminded of the things that are revealed in the darkness throughout the Bible.
Jonah in the darkness in the belly of the whale, David in the cave at Adullam – God transforms people in their darkness.
And I wonder what treasure can be found in whatever darkness you face? (Isaiah 43:5)