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Light and Dark

by Bridgett Lopata

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver. 

I started drawing this picture of a dog named Emma at the end of last year. Her journey with me began as a blank, white page. I added the darkness. I put in the shadows and shades. While doing this, I started to unravel the quote above. Emma is beautiful. But she did not become that way because she stayed a clean, pretty, white sheet; the darkness played a great role her development. It was because of the darkness that her highlights and brightness were displayed. 

We often hold onto the viewpoint that brokenness and darkness are all bad, evil, and devoid of value. We think that God has abandoned us to the shadows. But what if there are times when we have to know what the darkness is in order to recognize the light? What if there are instances when the bright and beautiful things can only be understood with the wisdom gained in the blackness? 

There is a quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer that says, “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.” I do not fully know the context in which he wrote this, but it doesn’t make sense to me. What if we were only ever told about the light? We would miss something because the redemption story of creation is derived from the shadows. The turning point for humanity came from the darkest event in all of history. The Light of the World was betrayed and crucified. Night and blackness appeared to reign. The world was plunged into darkness. Broken and shattered. 

Yet through the cracks, came the Light of God. 

The entire purpose Jesus came to earth was hidden in the wounds He suffered on the cross. Why should we expect our lives, as His followers, to be different? Why should we look only for the “light” in others when God’s greatest glory is hidden in the deepest of wounds? So much effort is spent trying to find the “good” parts of people, when maybe we should spend more time falling in love with their scars. 

God defeated the darkness. Light disarmed its power. But we would do well to remember that it was in the darkness where Jesus chose to meet us. 

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”  We try to pretend we have control over our lives, like I did when I was drawing Emma. But really all we are accomplishing is adding our “darkness” to God’s canvas and calling it a masterpiece. The moment we finally realize it is not up to us, we discover that God is the one adding His Light to our darkness. 

That is the redemption story. 

Light is the only weapon that can disarm the dark. We are shrouded in darkness, but because of Jesus, we can be clothed in light. All the beauty of life on this earth will be made up of light and shadow. I know that I am totally broken. And I know the darkness very well. But the light that God has placed inside of me has a story to tell. 

“Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12