Every 3 or 4 weeks (in this sad case, it was six before we saw each other), my very good friend Laura and I go out for coffee, catch up, support each other, laugh a little sardonically, and usually I cry a little. I'm a weepy one. (She's good with the tissues).
Today we talked about darkness. The darkness that visits every Christian who truly knows the pain of discipleship. The Darkness that visited our Lord. She shared a part of a fantastic book that I totally want to read. (After I finish with Henry Nouwen, CS Lewis and a history book on the royal cousins that started WWI. So many books! So little time!) The book - written by a homosexual Christian - touches on the feelings of loneliness and exclusion each person feels as they follow the Lord's call on their life.
We talked about the groaning that comes from discipleship. About the comfort that happens when you know someone knows the grief you're going through. And the ambivalence, the outsider-ness, the feeling of exclusion when you interact with others who do not know what the darkness of deep, soul-rending grief is like. And the thought occurred to me:
I'm now looking at our Christmas tree. It's 4:30 in the afternoon, and daylight is flooding our apartment. The lights are glinting on the tree. But the sunshine - the streaming sunshine - it overwhelms the tree.
Now, I love the tree all the time. It represents Christmas, it represents the hope of a promise fulfilled. The ornaments sparkle. And the lights, they are there. And it's nice.
But the lights change when it's dark.
When it's dark, I sit. I ponder. I am calm.
Its my favorite time, and I've been excited for sunset, as of late. I take my cup of tea or cider and am still in the quietness of the dark.
Those little Christmas tree lights, they shine. They illuminate, even though the shadows, too, are deeper and darker.
To feel the joy of the light, we must be in darkness. And the comfort in the darkness, the pain, the grief of life is that the lights may be small and unassuming.
But they are more beautiful in the dark than in the daylight.
On those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.