Advent: Living in the Dark

The beginning of Advent is a time to stop and make a choice of how to enter this Holy season.  Many Faith Traditions honor this time of year when the days are short and the calendar page is ready to begin again. The darkest time of the year is an invitation to celebrate and acknowledge the Presence of God in several forms. As a contemplative, the invitation is to dwell in the dark and unknown, the not yet and find new images of God. It’s a call to dwell in the reality of darkness. Darkness has a way of surrounding and causing a sense of coming within. It slows life down and is the invitation to rest.

I find this especially poignant this year as it has been a year of darkness for many. Whether violence, politics, natural disasters or just horrible behavior being exposed, the reality of darkness always with us has been revealed. When anxiety of darkness pops up, distractions are always available to shoo it away. For some there is a sense of being out of practice with what to do when it’s dark, whether literal darkness or internal darkness of death, terror, pain or loss. It is overwhelming and frightening. 

Living in the reality that darkness is always with us is a practice. The gift of nature creating darkness and our celebration of the Divine Light helps us to learn how to be in the dark in a way that allows us to explore, learn and grow. It is no coincidence then that this is also the time to gather with others. Together, we sit in the dark and celebrate the reality we need each other.

The honoring of seasons like Advent gives an opportunity to remember that darkness is just the other side of light. That God is in the midst of it all. Rather than using advent as a countdown to Christmas, it is an opportunity to dwell inwardly, learn how to see in the dark and look for the little candles of light. Learning to stand in the dark heightens awareness and creates vulnerability, empathy and trust. In my home growing up we always turned out all the lights in the living room when we lit the advent candles. Those flickering lights created a hush; an instant dwelling in the reality that life is so much more when we take the time to be quiet in what is. It was a time to remember that Love is in this world, the one of dark and light.

Practice: Take an evening and don’t turn on any lights or other electronics. Use alternative light like a candle or a flashlight. See what is noticed as you dwell in what is.

As a gift to you, I will include some Divine Doodles for you to reflectively color this week.

-Amanda Petersen

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