Saturday, April 08, 2017

To quiet the darkness...

In my beloved Chronicles of Elantra series, Kaylin talks with someone about what people do to quiet the darkness.  That phrase has stuck with me and is a great example of how I wish I still had my academic mind.  Were my brain cells still fully functional, I would love exploring it.  It is one of those comments in the series that I got immediately even though I struggle to find the words to say why.

I think one of the things that I love about it is that, on the surface, it seems like a mixed metaphor.  I mean, your first instinct might be to rewrite it as "to brighten the darkness" as you read, but true darkness is not solely about light and dark.

It is not as if Kaylin and Severn and Tiamaris sit around and discuss the concept.  No, they move on ... the story moves on.  But just reading it and seeing that the characters realize and understand the things someone might do to quiet the darkness is a profound and meaningful moment each time I encounter that passage.  Or, to put it another way, they understand that what they were seeing was folk trying to quiet their darkness and they accept those folk as ... normal.

Something that comes to mind is my favorite passage in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (1:1-5)

The NASB ends ... "the darkness did not comprehend it."  I know that other translations end that the darkness was "overcome."  I'd love to know what the Greek says.  But I like the NASB translation ... that the darkness does not understand the true Light.

When thinking about things like this, my first impulse is to look up all the other instances of the word that I am turning over and over in my mind.  So, something that stood out to me was 1 Samuel 2:9:

He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail.

[How cool is it that silence and darkness are together in a Bible verse!]

I think that much of the instances of "darkness" in the Bible have to do with the absence of physical light.  But the word is also used as an absence of Light in the spirit or soul.  In the NASB, there are 145 instances of the word.  I find it interesting that 33 of those are in Job.  I mean, Job is a book of anguish and suffering of the mind and soul.  To me, that makes sense.

Sixteen instances of the word "darkness" are found in the Psalter.  Also, to be expected, since this is the prayerbook of the Bible and written by a God who understands the hearts and minds of His creatures.  In Psalm 139 is, to me, the darkness passage that connects most to John 1:5:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.  Darkness and light are alike to You. (11-12)

I mean, to Jesus, the Light of the World, darkness and light are the same because there is no darkness He cannot dispel.  Not even the darkness of death.  So, of course the darkness does not understand His light.  And then, I think, "how can darkness understand anything?" And it seems to me that darkness really is, in one sense, not about physical light or dark, but about the fallen-ness of this world.

But note in the psalm passage:  "...the darkness will overwhelm me,,,."  The petitioner is being overwhelmed by darkness.  Overwhelmed can mean to "bury or drown beneath a huge mass."  Normally, mass has to do with matter and matter has to do with physical substance.  Darkness is not physical substance.  Only, when it comes to darkness of spirit, I think there is a physicality to darkness that does weigh upon the spirit, just not in a way that science can measure.

I guess if I go back to the book, what came to mind is that, for me, darkness brings to the forefront all of the lies of Satan that are still trapped within my mind ... within my being.  When I am battling the violent waves of nausea and it is in the wee hours of the night (morning), my thoughts are different than when I am battling it in the daytime.  The same goes with pain.  I struggle mightily with thoughts and emotions when having terrible flares, the darkness of my illness you might say.  And that darkness has a voice.  Physical darkness affects what I hear at such times, to be sure, and some of the helps I have piles about me are to quiet my darkness.

I really do not have any good words for this.  I cannot pull my own thoughts together in a coherent, cogent manner.  But I have done what I can do:  point out a phrase that speaks to me, to both the me who I was and the me who I am now.

What do you do to quiet the darkness??

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