Monday, 7 December 2015

Winter drawers on

Winter drawers on, as Terry Wogan used to say on his morning radio programme. The nights are drawing in. The days are dim, the nights are dark.
“Dark” is a curious word. It has two different but related meanings. It can be the mere absence of light. Nothing changes when we turn off the light – no scary ghosts, no monsters under the bed. That's just our imagination.
Or is it? Most break-ins occur under cover of the night. The darkest deeds are done in the blackness of night. Who knows who, or what, is lurking in the shadows. We can't see what's there. And that is the second shade of meaning of the word “dark”: unknown. Sinister connotations are never far off. In The Lord Of The Rings we see the Dark Lord, and in Star Wars there is the dark side of the force. How hard it must be for a sightless person to understand.
The dark side of the moon is not unlit, but unknown to us because it is always turned away from the Earth. The Dark Ages refer to the 5th – 10th century following the decline of the Roman empire, a time with little recorded history. The Dark Continent, Africa, is obviously very sunny and bright, but was for many years unexplored. “He's a dark horse” they say. (My Aunty Eileen once said that of me)! That is a horse whose sire and dam are both unknown. ["Pierce Egan's Book of Sports," London, 1832].
Amanda Lindblom performs as Santa Lucia during the traditional Queen of Light procession Varfru church in Enkoping, SwedenGetty

The light of the world (

After the Dark Ages came the Enlightenment. We could all breathe a sigh of relief – the lights are back on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. As the year turns upon the solstice we celebrate the return of the light: In Sweden the festival of Santa Lucia (see my website for a video); in the Jewish tradition Hanukkah; In Holland, St Martin's Day; In Thailand, Loi Krathong; Diwali in India; and many others including Guy Fawkes night in England, but most notably Christmas in the Christian world. St John's Gospel says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Many of those brought back from death by doctors (not just Christians) describe meeting Jesus as a bright light: the light is Jesus and the light is love. Perhaps somewhere deep in our hearts we know and love that light and long to return to it. Could this be the reason why we hate the dark?
May you have a brilliant Christmas.

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