The womb is a dark place. So is the tomb. And between these two mysterious spaces is the Incarnation, God made human, God-with-us Emmanuel, “the life made visible.” God’s love and redemption are part of the same story, from the crib to the cross, one holy narrative of life-giving love always blazing within and out of the darkness.
We recently saw the darkest day of the year and are now in winter – that seemingly dead time of year when nature appears to have forgotten its grandeur. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, it is dark this time of year. Short days. Cloud cover. As in the psalm, “clouds and darkness are around him.”
We know both in our work and in our personal lives that the obscurity of darkness is more than a metaphor. Whether it is the death-dealing shadow of depression and despair, addiction, suicidal ideation, violence, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, we see that sin and pain are realities in our world that touch each of us.
What we don’t see in winter is that there is a lot happening beneath the surface. Energy was expended in the fall and now it is nourishing life for the eventual sprouting and blooming and blossoming in spring, when all that is currently gestating will break through abundantly.
Saint John, whose feast day we celebrate today, writes,
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. (John 1:4-5, The Message translation)
The light of the Incarnation is both an invitation and a challenge to us Christians. As Catholics, we believe by our baptism that “We are now called to carry that light into the dark world to extend the light to others.” And as practitioners of the social mission of the Church, we believe that we are called to live this good news out in daily life.
How do I embrace the light of life and reject death in my daily life? What is being made visible, unobscured, this Christmas season? What Life-Light is gestating in me that might soon be born?
Kelly Hickman has served in ministry to the Church’s social mission at the Archdiocese of Seattle, St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle | King County, and currently at Catholic Climate Covenant and the Ignatian Spirituality Center. Her most significant role is as godmother to her nephew Oscar, named for Oscar Romero.
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