Last week, Becca and I walked between the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle and Ronnie's house just up the road...just a few hundred yards. No problem one would have thought...except it was around 8pm and the sky was pitch black, and it was windy, and we could not see a thing, and we heard strange noises, and we clung onto each other in fear as we took each step up the road....it was scary and I do not mind admitting, I was glad to reach the safety of Ronnie's home because this encounter with the darkness had frightened me. It got me thinking about the darkness and how mostly, we are no longer afraid of the dark because most of us literally do not live in literal darkness in this part of the world anymore. The reverse in fact - we complain because we can no longer see the stars at night because of light pollution.
I have recently be reading a small volume by John Hull, a Professor of Religious Education in the University of Birmingham (In the Beginning There was Darkness SCM 2001) who has totally changed the way I read my Bible and think theologically about 'walking in the light'...you see, John is blind after being sighted and so has had to re-think the world through eyes that no longer see as most of us see and also enter into conversation with the Bible in a new way...God created darkness as well as light and that the darkness was part of the day and is not abolished or separated by the light but that there is a relationship between the two - and God saw that it was good.
As we light Advent candles, I wonder how many of us think of the darkness as being blessed by God as something good and therefore not something that is to be feared.