From the Land of Deep Darkness

I don’t have to look far to find metaphors for longing during Advent. They come as close as my living room, where I sit by the window each morning in the blurred light from our Christmas tree. It’s still pitch black at six in the morning, so the night feels impossibly long, conclusive even.

The tendency, of course, is to flip on every light in the house—to see and read better, to cook breakfast by, to tidy up or make lists for the day. I’m reminded of a book I read for my graduate school program titled The Embers and the Stars by Erazim Kohak. It’s part philosophy, part poetry, and it’s one of the books that has lingered with me longest since reading. In it, Kohak explores the value and necessity of darkness. There’s a natural logic and inherent goodness to the rhythms of day and night, he claims, but most of us in the modern world have insulated ourselves from them. We live out our days and nights under fluorescent lights and in front of screens right up until we go to sleep, and we wake ourselves the same way. Our bodies have forgotten what it’s like to live in darkness, and so we’ve forgotten, among other things, the effect and impact of light. 

This Advent I’m struck, like Kohak, by night’s necessity. I’m also struck by how fitting it is that we observe Advent in the dead of winter. In the middle of what feels like one long night punctuated by a few moments of daylight, I don’t have to reach to understand verses like Isaiah 9:2, which reads, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

To read more of the piece I wrote for SALLT’s Advent magazine, and to read the lovely reflections and prayers of many other OKC writers, click here.

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