As I have been preparing for the upcoming festive season, a lot of my thinking has been around the theme of light and darkness. I love the prologue of John’s Gospel and contrasting images of light and dark that it presents;
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
(John 1 vs. 5 – NRSV)
Other translations voice it slightly differently
The darkness has not understood it (NIV)
The darkness has never put it out (Good News)
The darkness comprehended it not (KJV)
The darkness couldn’t put it out (The Message)
As I have been mulling over these thoughts, I read something that really cast a light on the subject of darkness. Richard Rohr quotes Joan Chittister;
Psychologists tell us that one of the most difficult conditions a person can be forced to bear is light deprivation. Darkness, in fact, is often used in military captivity or penal institutions to break down an individual’s sense of self. Once a person becomes disoriented, once they lose a sense of where they are . . . once they can no longer feel in control of their physical surroundings—a person loses a sense of self. Every shred of self-confidence shrivels. The giant within them falls and they become whimpering prey of the unknown. The natural instinct to be combative is paralyzed by fear. The spirit of resistance weakens. The prisoner becomes more pliable, more submissive, more willing to take directions.
It disarms a person, this fall into the sinkhole of sensory deprivation. It can drive them to madness. It is, every military knows, an effective technique. . . .
(Richard Rohr Meditation – Lightlessness – 23/12/2019)
As I read these words, it occurred to me that to be in darkness with no hope of light, is a terrible place to be. You feel abandoned, disorientated, without bearings and without direction. You can soon be lost and without hope of ever finding your way again.
God did something about our, as Richard Rohr describes it, “lightlessness”. He sent Jesus to show us how to live in the relationship we were made for, with our Heavenly Father. He sent Jesus to show us how to live in relationship with each other. He sent Jesus to pay the price for our darkness so that we can live in the light. All of us need to hear afresh the words of Jesus when He said;
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8 vs.12)
Are you following the light of life today?