“THE DARK AND (IN) THE LIGHT”

(a painting with “The Dark And (In) The Light” reflection by Timothy J. Verret)

I did this painting when I was in a very dark place. The place didn’t last very long, but I would have preferred not to have gone to this place in the first place. But I went there (or was taken there) and while there, I tried to capture with this painting, “The Dark And (In) The Light,” that in the light, there can be dark, and in the dark, there can be light. And as I typically “roll,” there can be BOTH!

Questions (of course!): Can we have the light without the dark? Can we have the dark without the light? Would we know there was light if we weren’t in the dark? Would we know there was dark if we weren’t in the light? Once again, can we have BOTH? I think most of us do have BOTH. And yet when it is dark, as it was recently for me, we search for the light. It’s not often, if ever, that when it is light, we are searching for the dark. That is, unless you’re an artist of my caliber. But, seriously, maybe for the search, we don’t have much of a choice either way?

As a human, I’m prone to the dark more than the light (“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” [John 3:19]). It’s not that I want to do evil deeds in the dark (or in the light). It’s just that the dark knows me all too well. It’s followed me around for many years like a hungry puppy and, I suppose being the animal welfare advocate I am, I have kept this lost and hungry puppy well-fed. But the light comes for me often in the dark, and I’m thankful for that. The dark comes for me often so I will seek out the light. If I were prone to the dark and the dark was all I ever wanted to feed, as John 3:19 says we are wired as such, I would be suicide. But, as it stands now, I’m prone to the dark to seek the light.

What is the dark and the light? If one is Biblically inclined, The Dark is Satan and The Light is God. God is Love. Satan is Hate. God=Light. Satan=Dark. It doesn’t get more simple than that. So, if I’m prone to The Dark as I am, with no judgment on your part or mine (I hope), then Satan is following me hard with hate. If I’m becoming prone to The Light as I am, with no judgment on your part or mine (I hope), then God is following me hard with love. If the world could chime in right here, it would undoubtedly tell you and I, “love The Dark.” For those in the knowledge of the Bible, the ruler of the world we occupy is The Dark, hate, Satan (“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe” [2 Corinthians 4:4]). This is why Jesus tells us not to be OF the world. Jesus doesn’t want us to “love The Dark” that is the world (flesh). Jesus wants us to “love The Light” that is God (Holy Spirit). The only way to love The Light is to be IN the world and not OF the world. If OF the world, The Dark, Satan, hate wins. If IN the world, The Light, God, love wins.

I’m an artist who hates (yet needs) The Dark so I can love (create for) The Light. I start with The Dark so I can finish with The Light. I start with hate so I can finish with love. I start with Satan so I can finish with God. When one has died to their old life, they desperately go toward The Light. I’m not sure if one who has not died to their old life can even begin to go toward The Light. Certainly, they won’t go toward it desperately. It takes a death of this persuasion to come alive. But can we die again after we have already died? I think we can; I think we don’t want to, though. I don’t want to. I want to live again, and I want to live for God, for The Light, for love, i.e., The Love of Son Jesus in order to Love Father God and love others, humans and nonhuman animals.

If we stop loving, we know not God or God’s Light (“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” [1 John 4:8]). If we start hating, we know Satan and Satan’s Dark. Totally simple and not even remotely profound. And yet the conditioning (human and spiritual) in this manner is NOT simple and yet incredibly profound. To embrace the complexity of the human and spiritual condition is an essential. One cannot know these conditions if one is of the simple mind- and heart-set. It will go “okay” for a while but, as Ingmar Bergman so eloquently and truthfully wrote in his screenplay of PERSONA when the actress Elisabet went mute, “Your hiding place is not watertight. Life starts to trickle in from the outside and you are forced to react.” This is EXACTLY what happens if one hides from the complexity of the human and spiritual condition, i.e., one in their hiding place (denial) will have life begin to trickle in from the outside, and one will be forced to react, often if not always against one’s will. The reaction is inevitable; the way of the reaction is BOTH. Hide or trickle? The Dark or The Light. Hate or Love? God or Satan? Yes, I meant to keep these BOTH simple.

“The Dark And (In) The Light” are the whole “And (In)” spiritual journey. We cannot have one without the other. I live not only in The Light and I live not only in The Dark. I am forced to react “And (In)” BOTH.

What will you do with “The Dark And (In) The Light?” Please let me know how you’re forced to react….

4 thoughts on ““THE DARK AND (IN) THE LIGHT”

  1. I read this twice to understand your concepts of dark and light as they deal with good and evil. Full disclosure: I am a spiritual person whose spirituality is grounded in the Methodist faith platform. However, I do not believe that everything in the Bible is either the word of God or the inspired word of God. God is divine, therefore, by definition, not human and not capable of human emotions. Anger, fear, vengeance, all part of the God of the Old Testament are human emotions that the writers of that prose projected upon a God who constantly seeks blood sacrifice and who must constantly be appeased and begged constantly for forgiveness. Even Jesus was a blood sacrifice turned on its head to grant us pardon without humans having to beg for it.

    The New Testament (at least the words of Jesus, not those of the later disciples) changed all of that and is focused largely on what amounts to the golden rule, which is a part of religious faiths much older than of the Judeo-Christian monotheistic one. I do not believe in Satan or hell. A God who is perfect love would not use fear or damnation to invoke pain, nor would it seek to punish those it loves. Fear is no way to engender love in anyone. A God who created the heavens and the earth (and the universe) is certainly more powerful than any “fallen angel” or evil force described as “Satan” in the Bible. God has given us a unique gift, and that is the gift of free will. Life isn’t a test God is waiting for us to fail so he can punish us for our failures. Our futures are not predetermined by anyone but ourselves. The darkness of our natures – greed, selfishness, narcissism – those are dark parts of us that we must constantly fight and deal with. The men who wrote the Bible (and it was men who did, some barely educated enough to write, and many stories were written down to memorialize centuries of oral tradition mixed within a phalanx of cultures) wanted to blame someone other than themselves for the evil in the world, and creating Satan was an easy out. The phrase “the devil made me do it” is as old as the Jewish faith itself. Jesus didn’t deal with Satan out in the desert. That story is an allegory of choosing between the better angels of our nature and the dark ones. If Jesus was in fact the son of God, he would have been well aware of his powers. He went out into the wilderness to face the human part of his nature, the dark parts that want things that beckon all of us – gold-encrusted palaces and untold wealth, absolute power over nations and people, mystical healing, hedonistic instincts, and other abilities that would lead to everlasting life on earth. He had a very important decision to make. 40 days without food and water would lead anyone to vivid hallucinations (remember, Christ was still part human) and therefore his “talks” with the dark part of his nature – allegorically speaking, Satan. According to the scripture, his divine origins choose to overcome his human nature and transcend into his divine one which enabled him to teach others what he knew was a path to the light.

    I think you are correct in the overarching theme of your essay. We are always fighting for the light and the darker parts of our nature constantly struggle with the pull towards it. Your prose about this issue is real and poignant because of your personal trials with it. I think we struggle with this dichotomy from birth to death. Sometimes the struggle leads us to thoughts of our own demise and a release from the pain the struggle often causes. To overcome it takes courage, watching and listening for the pull of the light, though it is often easy to miss if we’re not listening with our hearts and instead are listening to our heads.

    In the New Testament, Jesus tells allegorical stories we call parables. To me, these, along with the Sermon on the Mount, are the crux of what he referred to as the “new covenant” with God. Jesus regularly flouted the thousands of rules and laws concerning what was sin/or the Hebrew law of the day. He healed on the Sabbath. He forgave those who were sinners – the adulterous woman, those “possessed” by demons (probably mentally ill). He brought the dead back to life as with Lazarus. He threw the moneychangers out of the Temple. He made God’s love the centerpiece of human life, not the priests, blood sacrifices and laws made to bind men to the temple and not to God. This was a threat to the power structure of the Sanhedrin. His message was simple – what you’ve been taught by former laws and prophets is necessary to understand your heritage, but you’re missing the point. It’s not about rules and laws, it’s about love, forgiveness, compassion, taking care of each other. We are all small pieces of the light which is God, and the hands and feet of Christ. The parables of the Good Samaritan, the Sheep and Goats, the Prodigal Son are all the same message. Compassion. Forgiveness. Love. Eternal light. The Sermon on the Mount was an affirmation of that message for the thousands who heard it. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth; blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God; blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted; blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. A refutation of the dark within us, to be replaced by the light that is God. All that is required is that you believe in something that you cannot see or touch, which requires the hardest thing of all: faith.

    Your prose above is excellent in the way you name and deal with your struggle between darkness and light. I can feel your pain in your essay. I can see images of reaching for the light that is in all of us, even when the dark is all around us and in us. The two forces cannot exist without the other. I was impressed with your grasp of this concept. I think you nailed that.

    We come from different places regarding faith, but I don’t think they are incongruent with the other. They are based upon a different set of beliefs, neither right nor wrong. But the message is the same.

    Keep writing, Timothy. I think it’s helping you find your way to the light.

    Laura

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  2. These are some truly wonderful observations you made here, Laura. I want to give you my undivided attention as far as what you wrote, but unfortunately right now my brain seems to be out to lunch. Haha. I have the next 3 days off from work, and I look forward very much to reading (and more than likely rereading over and over) what you wrote and replying accordingly. Thanks for taking the time to reply. What I was able to take away from your reply seems like something you would benefit greatly from writing with your own voice and vision. I think there is much there as a writer you can contribute, and I support you wholeheartedly in whatever writing path you are taken down and through. Blessings, Timothy

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