For today’s reflection, I would like to share the following story. The author is unknown, and the story can be found in various places on the internet.
There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view. Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there. The cave had never seen light. The word “light” meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what “light” might be. Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit. When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted, because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience. Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness, and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime, because the sun had never seen darkness. So the day came, and the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what “darkness” would be like. Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” (Source Unknown)
Sometimes the world seems full of darkness. A friend going through a scary illness. A child struggling with bullying. A story on the news about a tragedy or natural disaster. Two years ago, just seven days before the winter solstice, at the darkest time of year, here in my own State of Connecticut, we bore witness to one of the darkest episodes imaginable. The shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school. It’s hard to think of an event more filled with sorrow, evil, sin, and despair.
Darkness can also enter into our relationships. Through jealousy, bitterness, the feeling of being misunderstood, or the refusal to try and understand. And finally, darkness can come from our own choices. Creating deep wounds that fester over time, threatening to swallow us into a void of nothingness.
What I love about the story of the cave, is that it reveals the fundamental weakness of darkness. It’s actually quite simple. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Whether through the brilliance of the sun or the flickering of a solitary candle, darkness is dispelled and light takes its place.
God’s response to the dark void is seen in the very first passage of the Bible.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
God’s light was a promise to His chosen people. He would always be with them. As powerful as this gift of light was, God created us with the freedom to make our own choices. A gamble indeed, and one that allowed people to turn away from God, causing sin and darkness to remain in the world. God didn’t want anything to separate us from His love, and so He sent a second gift…the ultimate GIFT. The promise of light was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You’ll notice that John’s Gospel begins in a way that echoes the first book of Genesis:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) This light can conquer any darkness if only we follow it. Jesus is a lamp for our feet and a light unto our path.
As always, God’s gifts don’t just stop there. We have that light of Christ within each of us. No matter how dark the world around us may seem at times, we are children of light. It is our responsibility and our challenge to be light for others. To let it shine into the darkest corners of the world.