Sunday, January 20, 2008

In Search of Light

A story/monologue for Christmas Eve.

(Darkened stage, sitting in “living room” singing “Tomorrow Christ is Coming” verse 1)

“the world is full of darkness” What appropriate words to sing in the middle of a power outage.

I hate the dark. Always have. It makes me uneasy when I can’t see clearly. I guess you could even say I am afraid of the dark. Everything sounds strange, everything seems creepy.

And really that is what I dislike about winter. I don’t mind the cold and I love snow, even shovelling it doesn’t really bother me. But those short days and long nights drag me down. I try to plan a trip to sunnier places each year, just to get out of the dark.

SO I really wonder about Christmas. People keep telling me it is a festival of light but then why is it at such a dark time of year? Why not celebrate light when there is a lot of it?

Still, you know, here is something about dark I identify with. Maybe that is part of why I don’t like it so much. I see the darkness of the world all too clearly. Sometimes people call me depressing or pessimistic but I see it as realism. The world is a dark place. (sing verse 2 of TCCiC)

See what I mean. The hymn writer knows. For many people the world is always dark. People are being pushed out of house and home, people live in terrible places, children are born into lives that will be nothing but struggle and hardship. Of course they are “crying out for love”.

You know the other thing unsettling about darkness? In all my favourite books dark means evil or bad. As things get harder and harder Frodo and his friends go into dark places – Moria, Mordor – and they are fighting the Dark Lord. And over and over again Harry and his friends are warned about Dark Wizards and have to learn to fight against the Dark Arts. When Harry is in the most danger he is in dark places. Dark means bad in so many ways in books, in songs.

And I get that. When I say the world is dark it is the bad stuff I think about. It isn’t about light or brightness or even colour. It is the shadows. Shadows of poverty, or of unemployment, or of warfare, or of racism and discrimination. They are dark. And still we have Christmas in the darkest time of year. I just don’t get it. (start singing verse 3 of TCCiC)

Man this is depressing. And yet it is real. That must be why I have always liked this hymn. It just seems so much more real than so many Christmas carols. It takes seriously the problems of the world. But my is it bringing me down. (pause and listen) Hey, I think the power just came on. (turn on lamp) Hey great it has.

Gee that light feels good. Now to bring some light to my spirit. (open Hymn Book) Hey here is a different one. “Kindle a flame, to lighten the dark, and drive all fear away”. I like that idea. Instead of muttering about the darkness and getting depressed we should do something about it. That sure is better than sitting here and getting depressed about it. Still, what about Christmas? Why have a festival of light in the middle of the darkest time of year?

Anyway, now that the lights are back I better start preparing to read Scripture at church for Christmas Eve. (open Bible) Maybe that will help me understand. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Well that makes some sense. I guess you can’t appreciate the light unless you know what darkness means. Still the darkness seems so much stronger right now. Wouldn’t the darkest time of year make a good time to celebrate Good Friday? But then there is Easter, it doesn’t fit right now either.

What’s next? (flip pages) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Well there you go! That explains it! We celebrate light in the darkest time of year because the darkness doesn’t win!

Do I believe that? Well I don’t know, the darkness seems so strong sometimes. Both as real darkness and as a metaphor the darkness seems really hard to beat. But I remember that even in the darkest night it takes very little light to be able to see fairly well. SO yeah, light is stronger than the darkness.

And really, even in those books the darkness was beaten. Of course that was the whole point of the plot though. But more to the point, the encounters Frodo and Harry and their friends have with dark forces make them stronger and wiser. Facing the reality of darkness helps them to grow.

In the end, it must be about hope and trust. If we truly believe that the darkness is weaker than the light then we can face it boldly and grow in the experience. If we doubt that light is stronger the darkness will scare and worry us. Christmas is the reminder that God’s light is the light in the darkness. SO yeah, it makes sense to celebrate it in the winter. Any fool can celebrate light when there is lots of it. IT takes faith and trust to celebrate light in the midst of darkness.

But I still prefer the light. I still wish the nights weren’t quite so long. But time for a new song, one that isn’t quite so dark. How about “Good Christian Friends Rejoice”
(exit stage, lights go on for the singing of the carol)

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