Sometime in the magical blur of divinity school I learned about the way we use imagery of light and dark. Light is good; dark is evil. Light is safe; dark is scary. Light is energy and hope; dark is depression and loss. I learned that language frames our reality, and so when it goes unexamined, imagery like this can uphold destructive cultural patterns, especially when it comes to race.
Since then, during these, the darkest days of the year, I ponder how I can confront my own ingrained prejudices and reclaim dark as good – if not for the world, at least for myself. This year it comes to me through a hymn (HWB 233) I just learned a few weeks ago:
Joyful is the dark, holy hidden God, rolling cloud of night beyond all naming, majesty in darkness, energy of love, Word in flesh, the mystery proclaiming.
Joyful is the dark spirit of the deep, winging wildly o’er the world’s creation, silken sheen of midnight, plumage black and bright, swooping with the beauty of a raven.
Joyful is the dark, shadowed, stable floor, angels flicker, God on earth confessing, as with exultation Mary, giving birth, hails the infant cry of need and blessing.
Joyful is the dark coolness of the tomb, waiting for the wonder of the morning. Never was that midnight touched by dread and gloom; darkness was the cradle of the dawning.
Joyful is the dark depth of love divine, roaring, looming thundercloud of glory, holy haunting beauty, living, loving God., Hallelujah! Sing and tell the story!
A joyful solstice and the goodness of the dark to you. -sk