The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined. -Isaiah 9:2
The past few years has been a time of great darkness for many people in the United States. Unemployment has hit an all time high, wages are stagnant, homes are being repossessed at a record rate. People are walking in darkness in these times of economic distress.
This coming year, I join that darkness as my “pay the bills so I can support my ministry habit” job ended. It was a grant position and when the grant ended, so did my employment. I recently received the notice from the state on how much money I’ll get on unemployment. It did not shed much light in the darkness.
That gathering dusk grew darker as we lost my partner’s mother just before Christmas. Her death was sudden. She was cooking lunch in her kitchen when she fell to ground – never to recover consciousness. She had not been sick, so her death was a shock to us all – and the darkness grew.
This past Advent season has been the most poignant for me – and it has brought the true meaning of waiting for a Savior closer to my understanding – as I wait for the savior in the form of a job. My mother-in-law now rests in the arms of the Savior – her waiting over – her darkness lifted – but still we go in the dark without her.
The darkness of the last few weeks of 2010 was heavy on my mind as I drove home late one evening. I was contemplating the darkness that surrounded me, and the grief I had been holding back over my job ending, and my partner’s mother passing. I was feeling like the darkness around me would swallow me whole – and then I saw it.
There, behind the trees, I caught a glimpse of light. As the trees cleared, it took my breath away – a beautiful, full moon, shining brightly in the darkness. The moon was low on the horizon and seemed to loom large in the sky.
Isaiah 9:2 came to my mind like a lightning bolt. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”
Within my deep darkness, a light shone – and brightly. The darkness all around that glowing ball did not overcome it – did not extinguish or diminish it. In that moment, God spoke. I knew, no matter how dark life may become now or in the coming year – that light would always shine – brightly – never overcome by any darkness.
What made me happiest in the moment, however, was to realize that it was not the moon shining down upon me, but light reflected from the one source that gives our planet life – the Sun. Just as the Sun’s rays reflect on the moon and give us light even in our darkest nights, so does the light of the ultimate Son reflect down upon us.
We see the light of the Son reflected everywhere around us – in our family, in our friends, in our churches, in our pets, in the trees of the forest, and the lilies of the field. Everywhere, everyone and all creation reflects the light of the Son. It is only when we forget to enjoy that “Sonshine” that grow depressed and give in to our despair. The Son shines all around us, and yet often we prefer the darkness, the “woe is me” moments of hopelessness. Why? Why wallow in despair when all we need to do is look around and enjoy the Son? There is no darkness that can overcome this reflective light. Stop looking at the darkness around you, and instead turn your eyes to the reflected light of the Son all around you.
Writer Richard Rohr reminds us that “at a certain point, we have to surrender to the fact that the darkness has always been here, and the only real question is how to receive the light and spread the light.”
This is a season of darkness – but the light shines on. Let us receive and spread the light.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.