Nicole and I were just settling in to watch a movie. She had been working nights so having this evening together, thanks to her day off, was a gift. The movie had just started when one of Joshua Station’s teens knocked at our door in tears. She told us that her siblings had gotten into a fight and that the fight had turned physical. We spent the rest of that evening sitting with our friends, mostly in silence. Looking back, I think that they would point to this as representing some of the darkest nights of their lives. Very little about that night felt positive. It felt painful. It felt confusing. It felt as if there was no light in sight.
I remember this night with fondness. I know that might sound a bit strange, but I have the gift of hindsight helping me to see that night for what it truly was. It was a moment of new life being birthed from within our friends. Something happened from within the depths of what felt like the darkest night. The love the siblings had for each other overcame what felt like insurmountable odds. They each grew up just a little that night—a growth that sent each of them in a direction of health that beat the odds. I am so glad that we didn’t get to watch that movie.
This story of new birth from the depths of seemingly endless darkness is also the story of my spiritual tradition and our natural world this time of year. Winter Solstice is upon us. To many, it feels as if the darkness is smothering. It’s too much, and yet already the light is being born again. This is partly why Christians celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation on December 25th. The symbolism is powerful. The darkness feels like it will never end, and yet it is the womb which carries the light we all hope for. Christ, The Light of the World, not only illuminates the darkness, but redeems it. Just like that night in the life of our friends, the darkness is understood through the light and we begin to appreciate it for what it truly is. The truest light of our lives will always be born out of the darkest of nights.
It is my prayer that the mystery unfolding all around you this time of year will illuminate your own journey in a powerful way. May you find the flicker of light being birthed out of your own darkest of nights.