Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday's Reflection: The Lure of the Lamp

I love coming downstairs on these dark mornings and turning on the kitchen desk lamp. For just an instant I stand in the glow of a little circle of light. It is still dark outside and in the rest of the house, but right there in that sheltered space, there is light. 

Just enough light to remind me of the light to come.

"Holy Dark"
Joyce Rupp O.S.M in her book Little Pieces of Light, Darkness and Personal Growth calls the kind of darkness that is essential for our growth "holy dark." That's how the early morning dark into light feels to me. 

That one light is a reminder to me to get quiet, listen to the inner promptings. It is in the little circle of light that I meditate and pray. I write. I read. I sit in silence. It is in the little circle of light where there is shelter for deep conversations and connection. The lit lamp reminds me of the inner light that never goes out, even when I may feel overwhelmed by darkness. Light follows the dark. 

And it always does. 

Rituals of Light and Dark
I recall my mother's habit of turning a light on in the bedroom she shared with my father in the early evening or late afternoon during the dark months, and when I was still living at home or in later years if I was visiting, she turned on a lamp in my bedroom as well. When I finally ascended the stairs to my room, the light would be waiting for me, welcoming me and protecting me as I moved into the darkness. That lamp on my dresser symbolized her love for me. I felt loved. 

Now if I stay with my father, I try to remember to turn on a light in his room before he goes to bed. And at home, even though I know it isn't energy efficient, I always leave a lamp on in our bedroom, so whenever my husband or I enter that room, a sign of protection and welcome and love greets us. I think Mom would approve. 

Sometimes during the day the house flashes with light. When potential buyers come to view the house, the routine is to turn on every single light in the house, per realtor instructions.  No matter the time of day or if the sun is blazing. My husband resists this ritual and suggests the realtor can turn on the lights when she/he arrives, but I think the house with all its lights on welcomes its guests and says, "This is a safe place. This is a place where you can create your own light." At other times I imagine someone walking by our house at night and seeing light in the upstairs bedroom window or downstairs in the den or living room. How could anyone not think, "Cozy, peaceful, comfortable"?

Later as one of the last acts of the days I walk through the house turning off each of the lamps which have kept me in the light throughout the day. I put the house to bed before I put myself to bed, trusting that light will follow the darkness. 

And it always does. 

A Gift
                    Turning on the Light

          Without this darkness--no awareness of light.
          Without this light--no awareness of darkness.
           In the flickering of the flame,
           in the delicate filament of the bulb
           is the light that is also the dark,
           the dark that is also the light.

           I shall never understand this mystery.
           Light and dark are somehow the same.
           I want not to prefer one over the other
           but to appreciate their unique
           and simultaneous truth. 

           Now light. Now dark. The switch turns,
           the wick catches fire. In that split second
           dark and light are one
           as is everything in the universe.
                                  Gunilla Norris 
                                  Being Home, A Book of Meditations

An Invitation
How comfortable are you in the dark? How do you create light in the darkness? What are your rituals of light and dark? I look forward to your comments.


  1. I love how you make the little things in life, which we may call "ordinary" and turn them into "extraordinary." I find this in every single one of your blogs. I don't have an AM ritual, but have one of my living room lights on a timer, so that when the darkness of night arrives I am always "called" in a welcomed way into that space which brings me calmness and peace. There is no TV in there, so I enter a space that I find comforting because it is quiet and safe. Thanks for endorsing this practice, Nancy.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind comment and I love the image of you being "called" into a space of calm and peace.


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