Darkness and Light

Striving to live fully in all the pieces and places we are

Light and dark are often set up as the primary dualism or binary in our lives. And yet we desperately need both and all the space in between.

Our future as a community lies not in dualism, but in embracing ambiguity and multiplicity.
We can set boundaries and then transcend them.
We can revere the past and let it go.
We can be fearful of the future and thrilled at possibility.
We can love and be annoyed by the same people.
We can be energized by ideas and exhausted by their implications.
We can fear the dark and still need the rest it brings,
We can exult in the light, but be too dazzled to act.

Let us take 5 minutes in this gentle candlelight to personally reflect on the readings I offered today:


Gathering prayer

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Let us honour what we have and where we are.
Let us walk, in darkness and in light, with strength and hope in each other.
Amen.

Silence and candle lighting


Gospel – Matthew 4:12-23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.


Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

© Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons. Janrichardson.com


excerpt from an essay by Parker Palmer

(Theologian and mystic, Thomas Merton once said,)
“There is in all visible things… a hidden wholeness.”

In the visible world of nature, a great truth is concealed in plain sight. Diminishment and beauty, darkness and light, death and life are not opposites: they are held together in the paradox of the “hidden wholeness.” In a paradox, opposites do not negate each; they cohabit and co-create in mysterious unity at the heart of reality. Deeper still, they need each other for health, just as our well-being depends on breathing in and breathing out.

Because we live in a culture that prefers the ease of either/or to the complexities of both/and, we have a hard time holding opposites together. We want light without darkness, the glories of spring and summer without the demands of autumn and winter, the pleasures of life without the pangs of death. We make Faustian bargains hoping to get what we want, but they never truly enliven us and cannot possibly sustain us in hard times.

When we so fear the dark that we demand light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows ever more terrifying as we try to hold it off. Split off from each other, neither darkness nor light is fit for human habitation. The moment we say “yes” to both of them and join their paradoxical dance, the two conspire to make us healthy and whole.