by Timothy J Bradshaw

As the sun dips below the horizon
  so the darkness flows in –
  like the tide across the beach

It laps against the edges
  of the pools of light, formed by street lamps
  and taps, ever so gently, against the glass
  of curtained, windowed houses

Tapping silently,
  for darkness has no sound –

  rather, the opposite,
  darkness cushions us from the noise
  that beat against us, during the day
  and assaulted our ear drums…

Now, in the stillness of the night
  we feel the comfort
  of darkness’ embrace
  the quietness of night
  enveloping our lives

One day, death will greet us
  with the same, warm embrace
  for death, like darkness
  is something to be welcomed
  and not feared…

A friend of mine sent me two poems by Steve Garnaas-Holmes which capture beautifully the idea of balance; we need both light and dark in order to enter into the fullness of life. You can read more of Steve’s work on his website unfoldinglight


by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Womb of light
from whom we shine,
but whom we cannot see
but by looking away,
only the unseen hides you,
eye of darkness,
ring of light,
mystery of day’s bright night. 
We too are you, eclipsed.
Let our horror of losing you remain.
What conceals you
reveals you, but only
the merest edges of your flaming face
we can never see straight on.
We gaze anyway
at light and dark
strangely embracing.
The light is changed.
We look through a glass darkly,
we stare down at pages oddly lit,
we close our eyes to see.
We walk through the rest of our day
and even into the befriended night
looking, seeing, changed. 

Eclipse 2

by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Who knew it would be so like
looking into the human soul,
the wonder and mystery,
the light and dark so mingled,
each made glorious by the other,
the awe at how one can overcome
and the other relent 
for a while—
and how unlike,
this celestial dance
laid out since the beginning,
while your next shining or obscuring
is now and always,
unknown until you make it,
a choice. 

Christmas Eve 2017

by Timothy J Bradshaw

We have so taken to heart, the words of Zechariah:
  the one who ‘visits us like a dawn from on high’[1]
  that we have forgotten what is at the heart of the story –
  ‘born in the night, Mary’s child’[2]

The whole point is –

  there was no blinding revelation
  no unlocking of closed minds,
  no immediate recognition…
The world was in darkness
  and the world remained in darkness…

Only with hindsight and theological reflection
  came the dawning from on high!

Gabriel came to Mary –
  yes it might have been by day –
  but the message brought doubt,
  required hard discussions
  challenged pre-conceptions
  and religious understanding
  and only became reality
  through the ‘overshadowing of God’s Holy Spirit’[3]

Overshadowing – or deep darkness
  as with Moses’ meeting with God on Sinai –
  for God speaks and acts, not out of light
  but out of darkness –
  in the depth of our souls
  in the depth of our minds
  in the twilight of our understanding…
Here, is the dawning of understanding
  not the blazing of divine light,
  but the reality of our night!

We can only imagine the darkness of those days
  between conception and birth –
  the humiliation and fear
  the constant uncertainty
  that pervaded Mary’s mind –
Saying ‘yes’ was one thing –
  but living out the result was quite another

Then in someone else’s house
  in the depth of the night –
  through the pain and the worry –
  the child is born…

No halo of light (for that is artistic licence)
  no ethereal glow to denote his –
  but laid to sleep in the darkness –
  the overshadowing of God’s Spirit
  the deep darkness of God’s presence…

On the blackness of the hillside
  in the fields, far from any light
  with not even the moon to illuminate
  with its yellow glow the sheep around them
  the shepherds waited for the dawn…

Then, light in the sky –
  the unworldly contrast
  that caught their attention
  and focused their minds

Here in the darkness of the world
  and the darkness of their minds –
  the voice (or was it voices) spoke

Sending them on a journey through blackness
  to encounter the God who transforms
  the despair of our souls
  into the depth of divine love…

Travelling through the night –
  for it is only at night that stars can shine –
  astrologers (night workers) come…
For deep in their beings – they heard
  the voice of one, ‘calling in the night’[4]
  come see and understand…

And having found the child
  God speaks again by night –
  in a dream – telling them to journey on…

In their study of the night sky
  they see the creator-child at work
  doing what he’s always done
  creating wonders out of darkness…

This Christmas Eve –
  in the depth of our night – this night –
  and the darkness of the world around…

Let us open our minds and our hearts
  to glimpse the vision of our God
  that his presence is always to be found
  at night – in the dark places
  and the dark situations of our lives
  and the blackness of our world…

For darkness should not bring despair
  but joy and hope!

For in this night, and every other night
  Mary’s child is born on our midst…

So, may we learn the profound truth
  that you, Lord, are always to be found
  by those who seek
  in the dark places of our world
  and the darkness of our minds

And with the prophet may we cry out:

‘My soul yearns for you in the night
my spirit earnestly seeks you’[5]
and may we find you –
born the night, Mary’s child…

[1] Luke 1:18 [2] Singing the Faith 193 [3] Luke 1:35 [4] Singing the Faith 663, chorus [5] Isaiah 26:9