Here it comes. The days of darkness are upon us once again. For
many, young children especially, darkness can be a source of
fear. It represents the unknown, and when you are young or
inexperienced at life, the “unknown” can seem huge and daunting.
Even for adults, unknown outcomes can be unsettling and
stressful. Darkness can be the metaphor for this—weare often “in
the dark” when unclear about a situation or issue.
In many spiritual traditions, darkness has multiple metaphoric
significances. The opposite of enlightenment. The womb of all
possibilities. The darkness before the dawn.
Conversely, in our modern age, a unique challenge we face is
“light pollution.” It is hard to appreciate astral events such
as meteor showers when one has to drive miles from home (these
events peak between midnight and dawn, of course!) just to see
For city dwellers, lack of nighttime darkness affects our
internal circadian rhythms, which can have psychological and
emotional impacts on daily life.
Darkness is important to our life cycles, on the physical
psychological and spiritual level. At Trinity, and in churches
around the world, Christmas begins with an evening service,
often timed to begin or end at midnight.
This significantly acknowledges the pregnant possibilities of
the darkness. Although there is no Scriptural support for the
tradition, it is commonly assumed that Jesus was born during the
The shepherds received their notice from angels in the middle of
the night. The Magi followed a star, visible only at night.
The night is full of mystery, magic and some kind of mayhem, the
upending of regimes of injustice, the healing of hearts,the
return of delinquent children to their loving Creator and their
Garden of pure beginnings.
The prophet Isaiah speaks it well: “The people who walked in
darkness have seen a great light;those who live in expanses of
deep darkness—on them, light is shining!”