Why do we think of light and goodness as synonymous?
There were times as a child when I wanted to hide under the floorboards in the dark confines of my closet to develop my ability to hide this way in case I would need to as others had before me. The dark I understood could be the safer place, unexposed. Playing hide and seek went beyond a game for me. I hid out of bounds because of the terror I felt at being unable to successfully hide.
What if we understood the delicate balance between light and dark and how they compliment each other?
I witnessed the graceful way complexions darker than my own complimented smiles full of pearly teeth revealing full bodied emotion. My grandmother lived with and loved a man from Guadaloupe. In all the years I knew of him as simply Clotaire. My mother’s waspy stepmother was called grandmother. Why? So many of those in my suburban community seemed dead inside to me. It seemed they blindly accepted rules and theories and regurgitated dead history. History without any real sense of the tragedies that my family exposed for me through words spoken and unspoken anguish.
What if human society could truly understand the rich depths in the interplay of light and dark.
Chiaroscuro brought beauty alive in art. The interplay of light and shadows. Revealing color and tone just enough for the eye to take them in. If there were not a balance we could not see at all. Too much light blinds as surely as too much dark. Too much light invades and causes pain. Who has not been warned not to stare directly into the sun? Darkness in excess withholds the visual world. Darkness can be the womb, the seed pod, the shell, the den. It can be the safe space in which new growth forms or tender life slumbers.
Some dark nights reveal the most beautiful and distant stars, planets distant in time and space. If the dark were embraced as rich potential and yet unveiled mystery, dark matter; the majority of the cosmos, unknown, and yet to be discovered, would we not relish the sacred place that dark holds in our unfolding development?
If we reach back to our ancestry through our maternal line, through wombs, and labor, and all that was done so that we could live, would we not eventually see that dark shining face of love, the grandmother of us all?
If we want to go forward we must go forward together or we will all likely falter. The Earth is almost guaranteed to outlive us with her shining surface and cavernous depths. We are lucky that she has tolerated us this long. Perhaps there will always be those whose ignorance and fear drives them to do the harm that no other creature would dream of doing. My line of thought is this: we need a drastic re-membering of ourselves and our place in this life together.
If we could deepen our understanding to get beyond misguided bias, prejudice, racism, to value life as it is offered to us in its fullness and variance the cosmos would open up to our perception as sacred and beautiful as it truly is.
Just maybe the next time you notice yourself equating goodness with light and darkness with evil you might rethink what you are telling yourself and the world about life and how it has been offered whatever you believe to be its source. It may take work and repeatedly reworking ideas that are commonplace, but I think this work is well worth doing. I think this is one element of creating a beloved community among humans and ultimately with all life and its delicate balance. I hope you will join in this endeavor.
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