The equinox has passed. Night is now longer than day. We are entering the gradual darkening until winter solstice calls the light to return.
Darkness gets such a bad rap. It’s scary, it hides secrets and shame, danger lurks in its shadows. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it is gray and rainy much of the fall and winter. Darkness sometimes brings sadness and melancholy.
But I’ve been thinking about darkness in a different way. I have a new grandchild, born just a few weeks ago. She grew in darkness for months. The darkness was warm and soft and safe, shielding her from harm, nourishing her, preparing her.
Seeds are dropping to the ground, or getting buried by squirrels, where they will wait for spring in darkness under the earth.
We rest at night. Our bodies crave the regeneration of sleep and dreams in the dark.
Darkness is essential to life.
In the Tao Te Ching, darkness is the metaphor for mystery, the essence of the Way. It is the origin of all creation. The Bible tells us that in the beginning, “the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” From this darkness, God called forth the manifested universe.
The darkness is where we came from, like my grandchild from the womb. It calls us to love, to embrace mystery, to welcome its season. The fire of the heart burns most brightly in the darkness of night.
As we gather the harvest of our active months in the light, we prepare for the time of quiet, the time of unknowing. The darkness is the gate to mystery. And it stands open, inviting us in, welcoming us home.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait…. So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. ~T.S. Eliot