By Matt Keppel
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.
I remember when I was a kid, my friends, my sisters, and I used to play in my parents’ basement. Everything would be fine until someone turned off the light. It would be this point that someone would run and get hurt or freak out. Okay, I would freak out. Have you ever seen The Amityville Horror? Not the shoddy remake, but the horrific original. The one with the blood flowing down the stairs and the evil well underneath the basement stairs? I saw it once… when I was 6. It has haunted me ever since. When those lights went off and I was stuck in the basement, those scenes came flashing back. The darkness has that tendency: to dredge up our deepest, darkest fears. It is no wonder really. What was once well defined through illumination is now overshadowed by infinite possibility. With no point of reference, our imaginations run wild with fear in the driver seat. Yet, the mystery of darkness is more than a place of immobilizing fear, rather a place fluid with possibility. While we wait for the light to break the darkness, we often panic doing whatever we can to protect ourselves. Some people run, trying to escape, others tremble in fear doing what they can to hide from something that penetrates our deepest self. Yet as much as it is a place of fear and unknowing, it is even more a place of opportunity. Despite what our eyes tell us, much can happen in the shadows.
It seems so simple to us today that, all of a sudden, this Christ-child appears and becomes the light of the world. But if you read the Old Testament, much went into the time of preparation prior to the coming of the Messiah. Long was the coming of the Christ foretold before He actually appeared. Darkness, instead is a time of preparation and waiting for what is to come. The darkness is a place where God works. Amidst our fears and uncertainties, God is at work, waiting to unveil His masterpiece for us.
Rejoice in these dark days! Just as the shadow of oppression rested over Judea prior to the coming of Christ, so too does it weigh upon us now. At some point we may simply accept the waiting as the end, our hope in the darkness. Though it may seem inconceivable that the waiting will end, these darkest days of Advent will produce the most beautiful of illuminations.