0 In Advent/ Christmas/ Spiritual Growth

Pushing Back the Dark

“Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for his light in everything.” -Ann Voskamp

It’s not even evening by the time the light starts fading these days. I plug in the Christmas lights lining the stairs up to our front door, I turn on some carols, I click on every light switch in the house, and I prepare for the darkness. Fifteen hours of it. I will have gone to bed and the alarm will sound and I will pour coffee and make breakfast and pack lunches and put dinner in the crock pot, I will have gotten dressed and maybe even gone on a run, all before the light will return.

Darkness is so regular these days it feels normal. It’s dark when we leave to work, it’s dark when we return. Some only catch the rays of the short lived sun through windows and doorways. Others miss it entirely. Every day the light leaves earlier, every day it takes just a bit longer to return. Darkness is taking over.

Sometimes it feels like it’s seeping in from the outside world into our souls.

It has become so familiar, this darkness, we sometimes forget what it feels like to be in the light.

I’m a few rows from the front, seated beside my sister and my friend. Their companionship feels like warmth, I’ve forgotten a little what it feels like to be among my people, the ones who I can’t stop smiling when I’m around. The lights dim, the musicians take the stage in front of me, and for two hours the sweet strains of their melodies fill my soul. Their faces are lit with joy, as if simply by singing, by strumming guitar chords, by blowing into a trumpet, they’ve gained access to glory. With every note played I feel darkness being pushed back, I feel the light streaming in.

I’d forgotten the light that comes when we lift up our voices, our instruments, our dance, our words, in praise and song.

I’m on the floor on an ordinary Tuesday morning. The morning light has begun to fall across us as we sit there, criss cross apple sauce, playing with a lego train. The little one I’m watching belly laughs at the mere sight of this toy, he delights in every trip it takes as we push it back and forth. And I watch him, mesmerized by his bright eyes, his sheer joy, the way the long awaited sun illuminates his golden curls and falls across our laps.

Too often I forget to notice the miracle of light – day after day. I forget to notice the miracle of life – running around in footie pajamas and asking for hugs. I get used to the darkness of closed eyes and hurried hearts.

It may as well be the middle of the night when our obnoxious alarms go off simultaneously at 5:30. I pull myself out of bed and flick on the bathroom light. The brightness is too much, I squeeze my eyes closed again.

Sometimes we’re so used to the dark we forget what it walking in light feels like.

I light the candles, one, two, three. One for each week in advent. The Christmas tree is glowing , the lights strung across our front door twinkle outside the window. In the flickering candlelight I open the Word of God. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Slowly I turn the other lights in the house, this time my eyes become adjusted. I pull back the curtains from the windows and see the first hazy gray of dawn on the horizon. The darkness is pushed back, morning after morning, by the miracle of the sunrise – no matter how late. And day after day the Light of Men shines through the darkness, no matter how impenetrable it may seem, and dazzles our unaccustomed eyes with radiant grace.

Our early evening lessons feel like midnight as I sit at the piano, correcting scale fingerings and teaching the notes to Silent Night for the twelfth time. Small fingers push down key after key, slowly hearing the familiar tune come together. G, G, E, F, F, C. All is calm, all is bright. Each careful note is like a pinprick of light. All is bright, even in the night, even in the dark. Because we’re remembering how to push back the dark, we’re remembering to let the light in.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

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