In Thanks for the Dark and the Light
By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.
In the northern hemisphere we are living with short days and long nights. It seems to me that we, as humans, are quite taken with the power of light and dark. We often fear the dark and are drawn to the light.
The dark represents the unknown, the unexpected, whether it’s at night in the woods or the uncharted territory of our own interior. And, what we don’t know can make us anxious.
We love the light, whether it’s a single candle flame or the sun, it shows us clearly what is before us.
But perhaps we can see this time of darkness as a time to go within, a time for quiet, a time for contemplation. What could be gestating in the respite time?
Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of light and dark that makes them both potent. Without the dark we couldn’t see the stars.
Maybe instead of lamenting the loss of sunshine we can welcome this time and instead of pushing to do more and more, to race from task to task during this advent season, we could pause so our own Light can shine more clearly even through the unknown.
We lost a Light that burned brightly among us when Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday. Although he was fully human, there are few I know of who lived a life based on forgiveness and reconciliation to the extent he did. Through his personal and societal painful times, he became a beacon.
We as humanity need the dark to rest and grow in, but we also need as many Lights, big and small, as possible to help guide us.
Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for the beacon you were to so many of us.
Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.—Eskimo Saying