Who’s afraid of the dark?
by Rev. Willie Rosin
February 01, 2023

I’ve been in the parenting game for almost 20 years now, and I have heard almost every excuse for children not to go to bed.

“I’m thirsty.”

“I’m not tired!”

“I can’t go to sleep alone!”

“I’m afraid of the dark!”

We recently exited the darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. We would leave home in the dark, and when we returned it felt like it was 9 p.m. We could watch sunsets as our kids got off the school bus. In these weeks of the year, I ponder what life was like before the industrial age when electricity allowed productivity in the dark hours of the night – especially when darkness makes up more than half of a 24 hour period. The sun would set, we would encounter a void. No background noise from televisions, radios, computers, appliances, telephones. A candle or oil lamp would provide a minimal orb of light to push back the dark as we completed household tasks. The darkness provided a mystery as it shrouded the world in which we lived, played, explored, and worked during the light of day.

I like to explore this life without electricity pushing away the dark, because it was the reality for most of human history and the world of scripture, where we find a juxtaposition of light and darkness. Genesis 1 tells us that in the beginning the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep. John 1 tells us the light coming into the world shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Darkness is not evil or scary, but something which simply is a part of our world. For Christians, we gather on Christmas Eve in the darkness as we celebrate the birth of Christ. The resurrection occurred under the cover of darkness.

We need not fear darkness. Solace, quiet, and rest occur in darkness. There is infinite potential for what may come to be in our lives and in our world. Growth occurs in darkness. Life does not stop under the cover of darkness. While I may have children who say they fear the dark, they have never experienced anything terrible happen in the absence of light. We may think that we can keep things hidden from the world if we bury them in the dark. Sometimes, hiding something in the dark allows that of which we are truly afraid to have continued power over us. Darkness may be the absence of light, but when we shed even a tiny point of light into the darkness, that of which we are afraid loses its power over us.

I welcome the return of longer periods of light, and I value the void of the dark, where our minds can settle and rest, where life and healing can take place without the busyness of the world to contend with. Embrace the dark, knowing that the darkness cannot and will not overcome us.

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