This is the good news from nature today. Light.
In the wee hours of the morning, I walked along the sleepy road that comes to an end at a boat ramp a mile from my home. No traffic had yet disrupted the acorns and twigs sprinkled on the blacktop surface. Few objects were distinct, other than Orion’s belt and other constellations in the sky. Jupiter was almost within arm’s reach. The moon alone made the white and yellow streaks outlining the borders of the road glow.
Sometimes darkness reveals life more clearly than the light. Maybe that’s why God created both the day and the night. Darkness is a reminder that we don’t know all things, and that’s a good thing to recognize. I suppose this makes darkness good news, too. After all, if it were always day, some people would be so distracted by the sense of their own brightness that the delusion would be unbearable.
For the dualistic thinker, light might represent the opposing forces of good and evil. Light is good. Darkness is evil. But in nature, they are not opposing forces. They are degrees of presence. Day is the presence of light. Night is the absence of light. They don’t fight each other. They are merely varying degrees of presence, each having their own benefits.
Evil isn’t a force in itself. Evil is simply the absence of good (or at least, the perceived absence of good). Love doesn’t oppose hate. Hate is simply the absence of love. What lies between the extremes is a fraction of the ultimate presence. To carry forward the analogy, if God is love, then God is present to the degree that love is present.
So back to light. As I walked along the road, glancing upward at the stars, I thought, “Those stars aren’t quite as brilliant as when I stepped off my front porch. The darkness behind them wasn’t quite as dark. The presence of additional light was imperceptible, yet it was there. Fifteen minutes later, the stars had grown dimmer. Yet they hadn’t. They blazed away with the power of a thousand suns in their own space. No one was turning a rheostat down to reduce their production of light.
A sound to the side of the road and a moving absence of light on the ground caught my eye. As my head snapped downward, a furry image that was black as coal stopped abruptly from the course it had plotted across the road. It turned, revealing the two parallel white stripes on its back, and beat a hasty retreat – much to my relief.
Grateful that I wouldn’t have to take multiple baths in tomato soup for having stepped in the path of what easily could have been perceived as evil, I continued my walk. That skunk wasn’t evil. It probably had a family at home it was trying to find dinner. I only perceived it as capable of performing an act that was absent of good, or even absent of love.
If that skunk was a dualistic thinker, it might have perceived me as evil. Who me? Evil? After all, I possessed the potential to harm it. It just shows that evil is often in the imagination of the beholder, and fear is the instigator of that imaginative perception. Those who fear much see the most evil in the world.
Now, if I had wanted to rid the world of this evil, I could have run after that skunk with a stick and beat it to death. That would not have been a brilliant move. To chase down an imagined evil only gives it the motivation to defend itself. I might have killed the skunk, but I’d have paid a weighty price for ridding the world of one life that simply wanted to go about its own business. There are many, many skunks in the world. To some, that means there is much evil to be destroyed.
However, darkness isn’t evil. Many things happen in the dark that are good. Like Monday night football, or sleep that restores energy to the body, or the propogation of the species.
In the Bible, darkness is a lack of understanding, to the degree that knowledge or intellect is or is not present. Additional knowledge removes the darkness.
Jesus said he was the light of the world. His light, as it emanated from within, revealed to the world the true nature of the Creator. He increased our knowledge and understanding of God. God is goodness. God is love. And we are to let our lights shine so God and Christ can be understood in our actions.
My little walk showed me that light comes slowly, almost imperceptibly. Yet it comes.
When have you been enlightened?