The night, the darkness, have always been realities that I have been drawn to, perhaps allowing me to discover new paths I’m being called to follow. We frequently associate the darkness with fear, with things that go “bump in the night.” We love bright, sunny days; we love turning the clocks forward to get that extra hour of light at the end of the day (even if it means losing an hour of sleep!); Jesus calls himself the “Light” of truth. Most of us just favor daytime, sunshine, and beautiful, blue skies.
Perhaps I’m a member of the Addams Family, but I love the darkness as much as the light. In the gospel, Nicodemus goes to see Jesus “in the night,” when it is clearly dark outside. Many people see this as Nicodemus being a coward since he doesn’t want to be seen with Jesus, who was becoming a figure of controversy in certain religious circles. Clearly, Nicodemus sees that God is working through Jesus; he wants to get to know Jesus better. But he’s a bit hesitant. Who wouldn’t be?
The darkness of the night symbolizes a journey in its infancy stages, when we aren’t clear as to where we are going, but we know we must start moving forward, with no clear understanding of the destination or the purpose. Meaning, deep meaning, takes time and the ability to live in the “darkness” of mystery, a way of living in which we are open to exploring new realities. When we become comfortable in this “darkness” we give birth to a new vision, a new purpose, a new life. We are “born again,” and again, and again....
We are “born again” when our journey in the mystery of darkness reveals new depths of our identity in Christ. We are growing and changing, gradually, slowly, giving birth to deeper expressions of our identity. The darkness means we don’t have all the answers, we trust in the Spirit to help us to be “bold” in our journeys into mystery. The beauty of spirit darkness helps us to face the brutalities of the darknesses that demean life and cast untold pain in the world. Many of these darknesses, these injustices, live and breath in the “light” of day; we are just blind to them.
Nicodemus first saw Jesus in the night, for he was just beginning his journey as a follower of Jesus. But let’s not forget how he is portrayed at the end of the gospel of John. He brings the aloes and myrrh to bury the body of Jesus, whom he had come to know and love. We are all on this beautiful journey of faith and we do so in the darkness of mystery, allowing unforeseen realities, like sickness, failure, and the death of loved ones, to reshape who we are slowly becoming. And in this process, we are being reborn in spirit, living in the heart of the Kingdom, our destiny, where the sun, “Son” never sets.