Winter Spirituality I

Winter Spirituality I

I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

• Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

• • •

My wife tells me the days are getting longer now, but to me, it is still imperceptible. Where I live, today we will enjoy nine hours and forty minutes of daylight. Which means nearly fourteen and a half hours when the world is dark.

In winter, life is more darkness than light.

How does this influence our spirituality?

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me we live in a world and with churches that encourage what Barbara Brown Taylor calls a “full solar spirituality.” Darkness is to be avoided. We want to “walk in light” around the clock.

You can usually recognize a full solar church by its emphasis on the benefits of faith, which include a sure sense of God’s presence, certainty of belief, divine guidance in all things, and reliable answers to prayer. Members strive to be positive in attitude, firm in conviction, helpful in relationship, and unwavering in faith. This sounds like heaven on earth. Who would not like to dwell in God’s light 24/7? (p. 7-8)

However, each day throughout the year is split between light and darkness. There is a rhythm to the daily cycle. In summer, a bit more sunlight, in winter, a bit more of the dark, but every day a measure of both.

As Taylor asks, “[W]hat would my life with God look like if I trusted this rhythm instead of opposing it?”

7 thoughts on “Winter Spirituality I

  1. Linus and Lucy, on whether it is better to light a single candle, or to curse the darkness (you can guess where this is going):


  2. I read this lovely book a number of years ago. I so appreciated her words and the life they brought. The darkness is not our enemy.


  3. Seems to fit with this outstanding Jeff Beck song, “Live in the Dark.” Seriously, if you’ve never listened to this before, TRY IT! Outstanding song.

    “I’m not afraid of the dark
    If we gotta live in the dark
    We will live in the dark
    Won’t see me dying in the light
    I will live in the dark
    I’m not afraid of the dark
    If we gotta live in the dark
    We will live in the dark
    Won’t see me dying in the light
    We will live in the dark”


  4. This is, I think, why many religions celebrate the Winter Solstice: even in the midst of the winter darkness, there is the promise of light to come.


  5. “We Orientals tend to seek our satisfactions in whatever surroundings we happen to find ourselves, to content ourselves with things as they are; and so darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce, then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. . . . ”
    ? Junichir? Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows


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