Another kind of darkness

Just about every time I’ve spoken with my dad in the last month, he’s mentioned the darkness. You know, the darkness that is there if you wake up early. The darkness that starts falling on us around 4 p.m. The darkness that makes 7 p.m. feel like midnight. The darkness that keeps getting longer. My dad is counting down the days till December 21, when finally the light will start to overtake the darkness again.

Most of us are not fans of the darkness.

Unless we are trying to sleep, and then we love the comfort of the dark.

Unless we have a headache or an anxiety attack, and then we love the gentleness of the dark. 

In literature and art we often use darkness to talk about places of danger or evil. But maybe there is another kind of darkness. Maybe there is a darkness that is a place of safety and retreat. A place we need to go sometimes to rest and to heal.

As Pastor Kelle J. Brown* wrote in her Advent devotion, “The Luminous Darkness”:

When God made the heavens and the earth, the light was not born as a correction to the darkness. The light was spoken into existence out of blackness, and there is no inherent evil attributed to the dark. The vast and nurturing embrace of blackness birthed the light.  I contend that the dark is where God begins God’s work with and in us. It is but the inside of the chalice where the sacrament of communion with God occurs.

We do see that holy darkness in the great stories of our scriptures:

It was in darkness that God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars he could only see at night (Gen. 15:5-6).

It was in darkness that God came to Jacob, wrestling with him until it was time for a blessing (Gen. 32:22-31).

It was in darkness — so we imagine — that the angel Gabriel visited Mary, and told her that she would give birth to the savior of the world (Luke 1:26ff.).

It was in the double darkness of the night and of the tomb that God raised Jesus from the dead (John 20:1).

Darkness is a place for us to expect God.

As the winter darkness continues to grow and surround us, may God come to us, and make that darkness holy. May God make shadows places of refuge and the long night a time of rest. May this darkness be the holy darkness that lies at the beginning of every new creation, every rejuvenation, every story of salvation. Amen.

*Kelle J. Brown, “The Luminous Darkness,” devotion for the 1st Sunday of Advent in Starry Black Night: A Womanist Advent Devotional, (Unbound, 2021), 16 November 2020. Accessed 27 November 2021.

Dec. 1, 2021

Pr. Kate

Pastor Jim and Pastor Kate take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them