God is Light and Darkness, so let us love and value both.
(a work in progress)
by Chris Duvall, RCsP
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has three definitions of darkness:
- The quality or state of being dark
- The total or near total absence of light
- The quality of being dark in shade, color, complexion
- A gloomy, depressed, or sorrowful state or tone
- Evil, the powers of darkness
- A lack of knowledge or enlightenment
Darkness has multiple meanings, and they seem to be jumbled together. Night time, people with dark complexions, the experiences of depression, sorrow, or needing help understanding seem to be mixed up with an idea of the absence, evil, badness, and this has led to devaluing of some states of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual beingness. I think our use of the word, “darkness,” has contributed to mistaken ideas and experiences of separation within and among ourselves and God, which is a big problem. I’ve become uncomfortable saying, “God is Light,” if it means God’s Darkness is excluded. When I speak of darkness, I’m not talking about intentional, malicious, self-serving thoughts or actions that harm others. To me, that is evil, and I want to take evil out of the idea of darkness.
Consider that Divine Wisdom divided a 24-hour period into near equal day and night, created humankind with shades of skin color, conceived of and brought forth babies in need of incremental mental and emotional development, and provided growth experiences inclusive of loss and trauma. Genesis sets forth that God pronounced Its creation good, but Merriam-Webster defines darkness there. I perceive that God expressed Itself as light and darkness, so God must be both. I find precedent for this perception in ancient wisdom which claims, “As it is above, so it is below, as below so above.” Also, the yin yang symbol depicts light and darkness equally, side by side and within one another.
I think one way to address our problem of separation is to language God as both Light and Darkness. Doing so recognizes Wholeness in the context of that polarity. I understand that Science-of-Minders may not take to this idea, because Light is so important in healing work. To wit, when I risked recognizing “God is Light and Darkness” in a prayer, a practitioner corrected with, “God is Light-Light-Light.” Ministers preach, “Divine Light transforms darkness.” Well, yes, but do people with darker skin feel truly recognized and included in that? How does that statement support self-valuing during experiences of mental illness, justified anger, or chronic pain? Wouldn’t acknowledging Sacred Darkness help us understand those experiences as connected and honorable? Wouldn’t recognizing God in as and through Darkness help us see the Divine in each other and in all life in the midst of difficult, even catastrophic times?
These days, spiritual teachers call upon us to share what we wouldn’t want others to know about ourselves, to embrace our shadow, make friends with our pain, practice dying before we die. Such messages capture our attention, because they help us value our vulnerability. I admit that much of my soul’s progress has emerged through pain, perceived absence, or struggle within myself, relationships, or experience of the world. (By progress, I mean overall greater degree of sufficiency, forgiveness, understanding, freedom, joy, love, purity, contentment.) The more I watch and listen, the more I see and hear similar stories from others on the spiritual path.
Darkness is good when it provides for growth, rest, protection, course correction and allows us see ourselves as whole beings. We are not now nor have we ever been separate. Light is known in contrast to darkness. The heartbeat in the womb, the seed in the soil, and the soul lit by Godly yearning must be covered and nurtured, so sacred life can develop and deepen where it does — in the dark. So let us be grateful as we struggle with personal and collective difficulties in full faith that we are emerging into our greater. Let us weep, laugh, arise and rest, all the while blessing difficulties as Divine Instruction. For we are both darkness and light doing necessary work, and we are expressing God.