I've always loved Advent. It's full of mystery, hopeful expectation, and the interplay of light and darkness. But Advent will be different for me this year. This year, I'll be rethinking the darkness.
As I write from my St. Louis bedroom, helicopters drone faintly outside. The news shows the same clip of Ferguson on repeat. The pain I witnessed in the face of Michael Brown's mother is fresh and raw, and my hands still feel the warmth of the others with which they joined in prayer and protest last night. Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." This year, I'm convinced, has forced us to ask ourselves: What do we believe about darkness?
Christians aren't exactly strangers to themes of light and darkness. In Scripture, more often than not, darkness exists only in opposition to the light. Darkness represents evil, ignorance, and separation from God. Night is to be conquered; darkness is to be rooted out. As a nation, I think we've proven that this narrative is deeply internalized, and we all too easily transfer it upon the color of one's skin. So it begs the question, what do we really believe?
We know that our lives are a complex and beautiful mixture of darkness and light, proper and fitting, each at their own time. We need it all every last hue and shade, every spark and every shadow. So I would like to propose that this Advent we spend some time with the darkness. Let's treasure the darkness. Let's reverence its sacredness and mystery. Let's learn to trust in the darkness, and when we find ourselves alone or afraid, let's reach out to one another. Let's rest in the darkness and the unanswered questions that we find there.
Yes, it has been a year of questions. We have found no easy answers. There is still much work to be done. I think perhaps our call as Christians is to live so that these words, also from Zora Neale Hurston, could be said of us: "They seemed to be staring into the dark, but their eyes were watching God."