Finding God in the Darkness


Winter has been described as the midnight season because it is both the last season and it tends to be dark. The darkness can be frightening, but it need not always be so.


As some of you know I collect old Scout novels; the Cubs and the Scouts are always refreshingly perfect in them. In one book a boy falls down a well and the Scouts discuss which one should rescue him.  Seton, who is a blind boy, volunteers to go, because the dark is already part of his life and it holds no fears for him. He knows how to find things in the dark and all his other senses are operating at maximum.


The dark need not always be bad for us either and may help us to tune into other things. Time after time we are told in the Gospels that Our Lord prayed when it was dark. He often spent the whole night in prayer.  When he was teaching us how to pray he told us to go into a room and to shut the door.  That was a way of saying shut out the distractions of both sound and sight.  In the small hours I have struggled with prayer, but have also found a clearness and freshness in a dark world.


The first Christians believed the night watch was the best time for prayer. This is why many religious orders still rise to pray in the early hours of the day. I may have mentioned that I am partial to the chocolate produced by the Cistercian monks of Caldey Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast.  The monks who make it rise and pray for the world at half-past three every morning.  Father Daniel, one of the monks, describes how for him the ‘whole body and mind is more perceptive’ in the dark and that the day seems both ‘pure’ and untouched.


Most famously St Paul found God in the darkness. He believed it was his duty to persecute the followers of Jesus Christ and set off for Damascus to arrest any he found there.  On route he was temporarily blinded by the light of God and he spent three days in darkness, which forced him to reconsider his life and helped him to decide to be baptized.


The stars, as you know, show up much better in a really dark sky. In those parts of the world with less light pollution the Milky Way is apparently spectacular.  A bit of darkness can clearly help the light to be more dramatic.  Anyone who goes in for sensitive room lighting and candles also knows that.


Sometimes the space and calm offered by darkness can help us to draw closer to God. It also can also show up better the beauty of Jesus Christ, the light of the world.


Father Michael

Posted By: valerie

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