Gentle or Malevolent Darkness

I am reading a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called Walking in the Dark. The book has opened many thoughts for me about light and dark. We do see them as opposites and equate them with good and bad. We have dark thoughts, saw a dark movie etc. Darkness holds scary things. Yet, as a child, some of my favorite memories are of a group of adults sitting on our back patio talking late into the night. There was no light. The stars were out. It was hot summer and outside was cooler and usually had some breeze. This time felt so special for me. I was usually not allowed up late so this was stolen time. The soothing voices of the adults would lull me to sleep. For me, the dark held no danger.

darknessOf course later in life I became aware of how light and dark are used. The Bible has references such as John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There are many others. Distance from God is often called the dark night of the soul.

Darkness in the cities is not really dark and there are dangers that make the night frightening. Our current world is more scary at night. We can’t see what lurks there.We also see ourselves as having dark places within us. Places that hold anxiety and depression. We want to bring light to those places to drive away the darkness. I see this as a malign kind of darkness filled with clouds of hate and evil. I wish we had a different name for those. If we did we could distinguish between that darkness and the gentle dark that allows us to rest.

We have lost our connection to the night as a peaceful time.We need it physically to maintain the circadian rhythm of our bodies. Most of us rest easier in the dark.

How enchanting is it to walk in the dark….away from disrupting light….. and truly look at the night sky. There is something magical that is not there in the daylight. Watching the sunset over the ocean and waiting for the stars to come out is ethereal.

night sky

We need to separate the malevolent darkness from the healing peaceful dark.

3 thoughts on “Gentle or Malevolent Darkness

  1. Your post reminds me of two authors I’ve been reading and studying closely this year, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn and Carl Jung. Both wrote very eloquently about the capability of man to do both great good as well as great malevolence. Jung used the “shadow” as a metaphor for our great capacity to do malevolence and it seems the author of the book you are reading uses light and dark in a similar fashion.

    “…inasmuch as I become conscious of my shadow I also remember that I am a human being like any other.” -Modern Man In Search of a Soul (Jung)

    “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” The Gulag Archipelago (Solzhenitsyn)


    1. Having read both authors I agree. Light and dark have long been used as opposites. Barbara Taylor is exploring how we learn to walk (understand?) the dark and accept it. A good read. I haven’t finished it yet but love it so far. Thanks for the comment.


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