Advent - A Season for Light

The day begins with wind and rain, and later when I go for a walk, I note that the creeks are swollen, and I can only imagine what the river looks likes. A part of me yearns to take a look, but there are tasks waiting for my attention...

Advent is a season that invites light into our lives, just as we are journeying more deeply into darkness...

There is a wonderful site with Advent reflections called "Following the Star," that I wrote about on this blog two years ago. And yesterday, I read the selections for the day several times...

"People of faith are not unrealistic. We know the world can be a dark place. But we also know that darkness is not all. There is a reason to hope, because there is a light always shining. Watch now for the light...And have your hope renewed..."

I thought of the wonderful scripture passage from Isaiah 2:9, and decades ago, when I was a Liturgical musician, I often sang a song based on this passage:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
They that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a great light has shined."

No matter how dark our life is, how deeply we fall, how long or dark the night is, or how rainy it may be - we always rise out of into light and life. And even when it is raining, the sun is always shining somewhere else.

Today, I read the energy of my yoga students, and felt that deep hip openers and forward bends held for longer periods was in order, so I shifted gears and adapted it to my theme for the week, which dealt with "smirti" and remembrance...The class seemed to be what was needed in many ways...

Last night, before going to bed, I read a wonderful poem, titled, "The Fertile Darkness" by Anusara Yoga Certified Teacher, Denise Benitez, a gifted poet, and I was touched by these words in her recent newsletter, which she prefaced with this wonderful quote:

"Mystery and manifestation arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding."
~ Lao-tzu

And here is Denise's beautiful poem:

The Fertile Darkness

Darkness is a threshold over which we
Peer, with apprehension.
Here in this northern city, where
Darkness is now ascendant and yields
Only a small fraction of wintry daylight,
We can practice walking towards the sill of
Blindness, unknowing, submitting.

"There can only be yield, a harvest,
When one yields," says Joan Halifax.
So, not to argue with reality, we give in
To the abundance of darkness, the black noon.
The purple day.

What grows in this darkness?
So many things: spring's roots, deep dreams,
Depth to ponder, quiet meditations, the renewing
Deep pond of silence and stillness.
Art, imagination, vision, all arise
From the place of no light.

In order to see light at all,
There must be darkness.
Darkness makes all growth, all evolution
Possible, graceful, powerful.

Let the darkness work its magic on you,
Withdraw, hibernate, rest, breathe, stretch, write.
"Tis the season for the yogi's deep quiet
And courageous Investigation of mystery.

We think of darkness as a bad thing. We think of dark times in our lives as bad times. We are ashamed. We try to hide it. We think ourselves weak. Or worse - needy. But we cannot fully embrace the light without the dark.

I write these words as the light of day slowly wanes into twilight. In a few moments, I will sit in meditation before journeying to the other side of the river to teach my Wednesday night class...

Sometimes light comes in the form of fire, and this is very fitting. I also read these words late last night about this season:

"Since Advent comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate...If God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste Advent time."

Let us then, make haste - not to waste our precious time and this sacred season when we journey from light into darkness, and from darkness back into light...

For "Following the Star," visit:
http://www.d365.org/followingthestar/

For Denise Benitez:
www.seattleyogaarts.com

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