Check the dictionary for definitions of darkness. “The partial or total absence of light,” you will find, along with “the quality of being in the dark” as the first definitions. As second, metaphorical, definitions you will find “wickedness or evil” and the associated auras “unhappiness, distress, or gloom.” Darkness implies “sin” and “ignorance.” We can not see in the dark and, without light, it is cold. Clearly darkness is a state to be avoided. Inside darkness lurk secret terrors, thieves that would rob us of our spirit or even our life itself. And who of us wants to live an evil, unenlightened life?
We fear that death may be eternal darkness.
I have felt the weight of darkness, as we all have. I often feel it at the end of the day as melancholy, or a lonely chill marking the end. I try to stave it off: lights go on, and the radio; I call my family or friends. Take a drink of scotch. Anything to avoid being alone and quiet in the dark. It is a fools errand. On these short winter days I weary quickly of the fight and go, early, to bed.
But the essence of darkness is much richer than these definitions allow. The pre-dawn darkness into which I arise each morning is infused with freshness and possibility, and with anticipation for the light that will follow. In the early morning I am the thief, stealing time from the day and making it mine. It is in the silence of the morning dark that I can hear the voice of my spirit which, later, will be lost to activity and the din of day. Alone, I am not lonely in the morning. I am in the dark though, ignorant, but it is the ignorance of a child: free of conceptions and ideas, open and curious. Call it innocence. Call it peace. Morning clarity is short-lived, but it is real, and by it I recognize the miracle of daybreak and embrace the prospects its light will bring.
Of course it is the same darkness that embraces me in the morning and envelops me at night, gives birth to the day and then takes it away. It is that same darkness, defined as the absence of light, whose own absence could be said to define light. The darkness does not change; but in the void between dusk and dawn something happens to my spirit: it cavorts with night’s roustabouts and wonders with her children, confronts her demons and warms in an invisible light. In the darkness my spirit is given life, and in the morning it awakens me to the knowledge that darkness is not to be dreaded at all, but rather anticipated for its mystery and the hope it hides inside.