“Let in the Light, Shut Out the Dark” Part 1
by jen erickson
I’ve often seen the morning light as an invitation for us to join in on a day that God has already begun, so I remind my boys that in the morning they are to ‘open the blinds and let in the light’. And in the evening, when the day is done and the night sky and its darkness has fallen upon us, they know they are to ‘close the blinds so as to shut out the dark’. These spoken words began as a simple preference of my own, but as I remind them, I remind myself as well.
My three boys share one bedroom in our home. They’re all packed in–tight and cozy. One of their morning responsibilities includes opening the blinds to their windows. Oftentimes, one of them forgets (though it’s never the same kid from day to day). It drives me a wee bit crazy to walk into their room after they’ve gone to school and find that the blinds are still closed and the sun’s rays are barely leaking in, forbidden from casting light into the already cramped, and often cluttered, space. Some days I climb up the bunk ladder and open the blinds. Other days I close the door to their bedroom and pretend the darkness and clutter doesn’t exist. The pretending, of course, is kids’ play; the reality is that I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to deal with the darkness, the clutter, or the ensuing chaos. The same is true for my heart. When life feels cramped, cluttered, or chaotic–whether internally or externally–it takes effort to let in the light. I am prone to shut the door, keep the blinds closed and pretend those places and that darkness doesn’t exist.
As mid-November rolls around there creeps up within me this awful feeling that I just want to curl up, take a quick nap, and wake up in February. For packed into those eight weeks are three birthdays, two holidays, and one anniversary. I’ve always felt somewhat lacking in the celebration department anyway, and carrying on those celebrations and preparations without Jeremy’s aide has proven difficult these past few years. Nevertheless, these boys of mine need to be celebrated whether I feel up for the task or not. Advent is to be remembered and Christ’s birth rejoiced in, because it’s a reality that has given us–and continues to give us– life. The moments of remembering and celebrating make and remake our hearts. I need that work done in me. I need to let in that light.
This season, then, is not what it once was for our family; nor is it what I imagined it would be. Yet rather than attempting to re-create what once was I’ve learned that it’s more fruitful to enjoy these present moments, however they may unfold. Christmas shopping is yet to be completed and the Christmas tree was only picked out this past weekend. But we’ve listened to Christmas music, read stories, lit fires in the fireplace. I’ve held and cuddled a sick boy on a gray day. We’ve spent time with friends and family and rejected the to-do list for just one more day. And I find that my heart is glad. I find myself grateful that God has provided enough for this moment. I find myself happy to be awake, to be given one more day to serve and love God the best I know how.
Traditions are wonderful, but the hope and peace of Advent and Christmas dwells much deeper than our ability to manage the chaos and create beautiful moments. We can — even in darkness and chaos and clutter — twist the wand and let in a little light. Jesus knows exactly how to enter in to such spaces. We find there is room and space during Advent for the dark — the weak, the tired, the wandering, the waiting, the wondering — as well as room and space for hope, joy and celebration. There is a place here for all of us.
Blessings to you and yours as you wait for the coming King.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5