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Daylight and darkness

By March 9, 2015 No Comments

Good morning, on this annual Monday where our clocks have been turned back for a day but our body clocks struggle to catch up. The promise of an energizing extra hour of evening light is our reward for convincing ourselves to get out of bed an hour before what our groggy bodies had gotten accustomed to. Daylight saving time is such an odd thing, really. What it was intended to accomplish and what it does accomplish are contested matters, but to me it is a reminder of our arbitrary human attempts to harness nature and deal with it on our own terms. The sunset is actually pretty much the same time as it was two nights ago, it’s just that one day we called that “6:45pm” and the next day we decide that it’s “7:45pm.” The days suddenly seem longer, even though all we’ve done is shift some daylight from morning to evening. Maybe we should call it “daylight shifting time.” I had always thought the whole endeavor was for the sake of farmers, but it turns out it’s much more tied to assumptions about energy use and the benefits of daylight after traditional daytime working hours. We have found a way to name time based on our human constructions of regularity and schedules. The agrarian relationship to time is a thing of yesteryear for those of us thoroughly conformed to an industrialized society.

But I digress. And I’m not going to complain when I can walk the dog in daylight instead of darkness tonight when I get home. And the temperatures this week in Nashville are finally going to feel like spring, a welcome change after our bout of snow and ice storms in the past three weeks. I think the schools here have had about 9 snow days out of the past 15 school days. With no infrastructure to deal with snow and ice, cities here in the south seem to simply wait for things to melt. Which means a lot of time “hunkered down” at home while the city is shut down. And since we’re at the eastern edge of the Central time zone, the winter days have felt even shorter.  So even if “longer days” are an illusory human construction, I’ll greet them eagerly. I’m ready for more light. I am getting weary of the hunkering down, tired of the dim afternoons that entice me to turn in for the day once I get home, to put on my comfy clothes and nestle in against the creeping dark of night. It’s funny how the added daylight confronts me at this time of year; patterns of hibernation no longer seem justifiable once exposed to the light.

Yesterday at a worship service where a friend of mine was being installed as associate pastor, we sang a hymn about the incarnation called “Before the World Began” written by John Bell. A line jumped out at me as we sang about the incarnate Christ: “Light found in him its course, darkness its friend.” This image of Christ as a befriender of darkness, not simply a dispeller or conqueror of darkness, felt right. Sometimes the darkness around us and within us clings, and it’s comforting to think of Christ present there in the shadows, bearing the hope of the transforming light where it is needed most. In the midst of times when we find ourselves utterly “in the dark” about the outcomes and answers we await, Christ joins us there and tugs us toward the vision of a new Jerusalem where God’s glory illuminates constantly, where sun and moon are no longer necessary, where there will be no more night, and the city’s gates will stay open (Revelation 21: 23-25). There will be no more fearing what lurks under cover of darkness. There will be nowhere to hide because there will be nothing to hide and no one to shut out. In perpetual broad daylight we’ll see clearly and be seen clearly. Even now we are being beckoned toward that brightness. Arise, awake!

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