If light has some special relationship to love and life and God, then darkness … maybe does not? Darkness was not created or made; it was already there.
“…when darkness covered the face of the deep… And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.”
Darkness is a pre-existing condition, but it wasn’t Night until God named it.
We’ll have to think about the power of names and naming at some point. But “darkness” for now is enough to think about. Before it was Night, when it was all there was however formless and void that “all” was, was darkness actually something or was darkness a characteristic of the formless void? By naming it Night, did God give form and purpose to darkness? Night is an essential part of life, an essential fundamental fact of existence as we know it. So it cannot be innately bad or evil or hate, right?
I want to suggest that the opposite of light is not darkness but “nothingness” a vast empty. In fact, I think we have all heard it said that hate is not the opposite of love, but indifference is.
In the midst of indifference, something, somehow, needs to spark a light in order for existence to matter, for even darkness and shadows to have a form and a meaning.
In the book “Learning to Walk in the Dark” by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne 2014), she acknowledges how scary darkness is, how night conjures up fear. Yet, she writes, “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
I really don’t think I like that! I would much rather not be afraid. I would rather not know through those lessons of darkness.
Yet trying to have a world that is always sunny, Taylor writes, “can result in a kind of spirituality that deals with darkness by denying its existence or at least depriving it of any meaningful attention.” Things are not always good no matter how much faith you have, no matter how much you trust God, no matter how hard you try to manifest hope and joy and peace. As with seasons, there are going to be patches in life where bad things happen. Blame it all on darkness?
Since darkness is a pre-existing condition, and even a requirement for how the world works, perhaps take blame and shame and disgust out of the situation. Perhaps waiting for the sun to shine again, the earth to spin, the inevitable change to arrive is a type of faith.
Or maybe the darkness that was present before the Light is something utterly different from life and love and different entirely from fear and night. Perhaps it is more like “IT” in Madelaine L’Engle’s strange teen classic “A Wrinkle in Time”. Meg has to rescue her long-missing father from “IT” on a planet that has been captured by the enemy. It is not dark there, that planet’s sun still shines on the people there, in fact, it is orderly and well-lit and organized. But fear is everywhere, and the danger of indifference and meaningless is something beyond hate.
It is in fact, Meg’s anger that becomes her greatest gift and weapon against the power of “IT”.
God calls the darkness “Night”…. perhaps not to tame it or claim it, but perhaps to shape it into an actual something, to remove “formlessness and void” from the created world. To make “Night” part of the design.
(I would still rather the joy of the morning!)