Today is the darkest day of the year — or the shortest anyway. Beyond the astronomical event, it seems like a very dark time in our country and around the world.
Our natural instinct is to shut out the darkness. We hole up in our well-lit homes, ignoring the darkness in the world by focusing on whatever distracting light we can find — even if that light is merely the electronic flicker while watching some inane television show. The darkness can be frightening, and it holds sorrows seemingly too heavy to bear. There are ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. There are many good reasons to shut out the dark.
But one of the positive things about the darkness is that the light shines more brightly. For most of us, the stars have all but disappeared in the glare of our city lights, but head out into the country and the glory of the night sky is breathtaking. Sitting around a campfire during the day is a pleasant experience, but sitting around a fire at night is magical.
In the same way, acts of kindness among generally pleasant neighbors is nice. Helping your friends and family who you can count on to reciprocate is a wonderful thing, and it should be applauded and encouraged. But when people bring light into the dark corners of their world, something truly marvelous happens, and the light spreads.
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One of the most famous passages from the book of Isaiah dealing with the prophecy of the Messiah has this verse:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
Christ came to a dark world with his brilliant light, and he commands his followers to let their light shine. We would do well to remember that our light will shine most brightly where it is darkest. Rather than merely shutting out the darkness, let us bring light to those who dwell there.
What lights have you seen in this dark season?