I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a fan of darkness. I can vividly remember pitch black nights spent alone in my childhood bedroom, where I imagined I was someplace else--usually warm, sunny and with the ones I loved. I learned to fall asleep as fast as I could, so that the light and promise of a new day would come sooner. In the darkness, my greatest fears confronted me--losing my parents & sisters, not being cool enough to fit in at school, not being good enough or smart enough or attractive enough or liked enough. My mind would race through these many scenarios of hopelessness and unworthiness, pretty ridiculous looking back now, knowing that the people who loved me more than anything in the world and always reflected that love were only a bedroom away. Darkness came with a sense of uneasiness, uncertainty and worry.
Coincidentally or not, “Beware of Darkness” is one of my favorite songs, written by George Harrison. Darkness, to George, is associated with false voices, greed, people who wrong you, pain, self-doubt.This song, like many cultural references, paints darkness as a bad thing. I’d have to agree with that idea, from many life experiences beyond being afraid of the dark as a little kid: pneumonia that left me hospitalized, the deaths of close family members, rejection, toxic friendships and relationships, crises of self-confidence, feelings of loneliness, bullying, injuries and frustration. Yet at the same time, I repeatedly find myself searching for hope amidst the darkness. Hope of a better future. Hope of little pain. Hope of healing and forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope for a world where all are loved as God’s children. Hope for the light of a new day to get back up and get after it again.
Pain, darkness and suffering are things no one really likes. In fact, we go to great lengths to avoid the three at all costs, fearing their return to our lives. What if, in this Lenten season, where we witness darkness turn to light, marked by the lengthening of days and the reminder of Jesus’ resurrection, instead of fearing darkness, we hope for and look to that new light to arrive in our lives? I’m not saying to go ahead and embrace darkness and all its toils and troubles, but instead, recognize that like the seasons, it’s a natural part of life. By bewaring darkness, or “being aware” of it, we can recognize life for what it is and bring the light of God’s love to those places where all other lights seem to go out.
TIME TO CHAT.
How does darkness make you feel? Are you like me and uneasy, or are you attracted to those hours? It’s difficult to talk about dark places or thoughts or feelings in our lives. Are you one who internalizes and self-processes these things or do you have a friend, family member, mentor, loved one or someone else you share these thoughts, feelings and experiences with? What are some things you do to bring light or joy or even laughter to dark places/moments in your life?
Check-in with yourself to notice how you feel when the lights go off at the end of the day. Are you looking forward to tomorrow? Are you afraid of the dark or what’s to come? Or are you so exhausted that your mind is able to shut off right away? The next morning, check in as a family how everyone felt the night before.