Of the many themes that weave through Advent, this good news in particular has been catching my attention: Light gets the last word.
Perhaps more than any other season, Advent—at least in the Northern hemisphere—highlights the juxtaposition of darkness and light. Here in Advent, the two arrive almost together: the darkest day of the year, and the Light of the world. And the Light enters not just to the blazing of bright angels and the spark of a special star, but through the dark of a womb, the pain of labor, into a world where his parents would soon need to flee to save his life. To reach the light again, and to bring us there with him, even the Light passed through darkness: a womb, a tomb, and many dark and lonely places in between.
Perhaps this theme is calling to me because the days are short and grey, and I’ve been feeling the winter darkness not just around me but within me. Or maybe I’m more aware of the world’s darkness with daily news of death counts continuing to rise. Or perhaps this is one of those times that God is speaking in surround-sound, pointing out in various places the same theme that is his gift to me in this season of this year: Light gets the last word.
Whichever it is, or all of them, I am grateful that Advent reminds me of this: to reach the light, we must pass through the darkness. Not just at the start of life—a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb—but day after night and summer after winter, a continuous cycling through darkness and back into light.
Darkness has its gifts. It’s in the dark that we rest, and grow, and push down roots—a seed in the ground, a babe in the womb, a child tucked into bed. But perhaps one of the greatest gifts of darkness is that it teaches us to look for the light, and to celebrate it when it comes.
I’ve been watching how the tiny white lights on my small tree scarcely show when the sun peeks out, but shine brightly on a grey day or a rainy evening. And for weeks, it seems, I’ve been marvelling at the courage and hardiness of the two fuchsia buds that have been near to bursting for weeks. Other plants shriveled long ago and I’ve pruned my hanging planter down to the one or two plants that still live. As I’ve opened the blinds each morning, I’ve wondered whether the buds would dare to open at all in these dark days when, some mornings, the grass is stiff and sparkles with heavy frost.
But on Saturday, a day of sun between two weeks of rain, I peeked out and saw the first petal bravely lifting in the afternoon sun. It’s still open only this far. But it’s open. And it’s one more glimpse of life and light and beauty, one more reminder that though it may take time for the light to come and for us to open to it, in the end light does have the last word.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)