+ Dear Friends,
Once again, the time of year has come around, when the different spiritual traditions celebrate Festivals of Light. In the northern hemisphere, where the days are short and dark now, the rising light at the winter solstice gives us new hope. But anywhere in the world, “Light in darkness” is a theme worthy of celebration. It is above all the IN of “Light IN darkness” that the initiated celebrate as the great mystery of Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, and other Festivals of Light. For eyes attuned to wonderment, it is a marvelous delight to see light shining into the darkness. Light shining in the darkness is an even greater joy, but only the eyes of our heart can see that marvel.
Just as you let yourself sink down into basking-in-the-light, let yourself now sink down into basking-in-the-darkness. It takes a bit of courage, but i think you’ll be able to do it.
What does all this mean? Only if we experience it, will we know. And how can we experience it? Only if we get very quiet and attentive. An early nightfall in winter is a time that lends itself to such watchful inner silence – a moment in time, when “the veil between the two worlds is very thin,” as the Celtic tradition puts it. Maybe you have lit a candle and are basking now in its warm glow. Enjoy that feeling; let yourself sink down into it; rest in it for as long as you feel cradled in it. When thoughts arise, turn them towards the moment, a little while ago, when you were striking a match to light this candle. Bring your remembering of that moment gently down from your head into your heart. With the heart, rather than the head, be aware, at one and the same time, of the candle’s steady light and of the moment when the flaring-up match brought that light into the dark room. Don’t force anything. Just gaze with your heart until you are aware both of the candle light and of the moment, when the match brought that light out of the darkness. Keep holding all three in quiet awareness: the light, the flash of the match, and the darkness before that. Then, slowly, try this: Just as you let yourself sink down into basking-in-the-light, let yourself now sink down into basking-in-the-darkness. It takes a bit of courage, but i think you’ll be able to do it.
Once you have experienced simultaneous awareness of light and its arising out of darkness, you have caught a glimpse of The Mystery of Origination. You will be able to find that mystery again and again, whenever you look with the same trustful attention of your heart’s eyes at other things. When you are looking at the face of a daisy, the eyes of a cat, or the loving glance of a friend’s eyes, it is almost as easy as it was when looking at the candle to let yourself down so deeply into what you see that you become aware of the womb of darkness from which it is being born. Once you train yourself to this kind of looking with the eyes of your heart, it will work not only with these easy examples, but with anything whatsoever.
With a new courage and with new creativity, you will strike match after match to light up the world…
Yes, once you have been simultaneously aware of light and darkness and know from experience that you can entrust yourself to what Dylan Thomas calls “the close and holy darkness,” the dark womb of light, you will look with new eyes also at all that is dark around you. With a new courage and with new creativity, you will strike match after match to light up the world, but you will not fear the darkness, because you will recognize it as the not yet light.
This awareness, this courage, and this creative determination is what i most wish for you and for me and for all of us at this season and throughout 2019,
Your brother David