“To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” (Wendell Berry)
Wendell Berry’s words are uncomfortably appropriate for this December. The days are getting short, we know. They always do in December. As we move on toward Christmas we know we will light candles against the dark, as people have done through the millennia, Christians and Jews, pagans and others, lighting candles and fires in the midst of the darkest of days. It is an act of affirmation and solidarity – holding together, we offer comfort and support, assurance that the light will return, and our days will be glad.
And surely in these times, not only of the natural season, but of the political season, of our nation and the world, many of us are feeling the darkness closing in. These are uncertain times, and they feel scary.
Wendell Berry’s wisdom is important here and now. It is not always wise to run away into the light. There is wisdom in the darkness, in settling down into it, feeling it fully and letting the truths that reside in those dark and often unvisited places surface. Sometimes acting quickly proves foolish. Sometimes bolting out of our discomfort zones is to run away from insight, learning, healing wisdom. Sometimes…
We will never know those times of wisdom if we always run. And so our received tradition, as well as our natural world brings us these days of waiting time, called Advent in the Christian calendar. Waiting. Waiting to discern the right time and the right action, waiting to allow the kernel of wisdom to germinate, the power of love to unfurl its wings. And that time is coming as sure as day will follow night and spring will follow winter. The power of love will unfurl its wings, and we will be a part of that. We already are.
The wisdom literature tells us: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Let us attend to the season that is with us, the season of preparation.
And then, for sure, rejoice in celebration of the new life and holy work that is born amongst us.
With love and warm wishes,