31 Mar Darkness and Light
With the recent time change, I have been increasingly aware of two things: darkness and light. In the morning when I wake up early for work, it is now dark outside. On my drive home, it is staying light longer. Barring the unusually long day, I enjoy the sunlight on my entire ride. It is a nice contrast. When I stand at my window in the morning and look out into the darkness, I have difficulty discerning much of anything. I look into a field of unknown possibility. There is a calm beauty for me in that. My drive home, on the other hand, is as bright as ever. I immensely enjoy all there is to see, an airport with planes literally right overhead, a Worlds Fair exhibition, stadiums, trees, sunsets. The light allows me to appreciate the actualized potential of what is around me.
As I become more aware of this contrast, I am finding myself thinking about the role of darkness and light in learning. I am beginning to think of darkness as the areas of myself yet to be explored; filled with unknown and exciting possibility. Light, on the other hand, is taking the form of knowledge created, representing parts of myself that I have begun to actualize. There is a joy to bringing order to chaos, actualization to possibility. Additionally, just as many holidayscelebrate traditions of bringing light into darkness (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali to name a few), I am finding in myself how important these celebrations are to learning as well, as we awaken new parts of ourselves formally dark and become increasingly “bright” individuals.
Recently, I read a phenomenal passage from the Midrash, a Jewish holy text. I read these nine words and felt myself flooded by a newfound sun. The passage reads, “…many candles can be lit by the same candle.” Not only, I realized, do we retain our learning when sharing it with others, but together we burn brighter than any one of us alone. Subsequently, in order for us to see most clearly, there is a need to create a collective consciousness, a light of a million candles. Learning, thus, involves not only finding ways to light our own candles, but also an ability to build bridges to both light, and be lit, by the candles of others. The process involves becoming in the largest sense of the word, to both create and gather and then give away. A flame can only be shared if it is lit, and received when there is an openness to letting go of darkness.
I would like to end this post with one final thought on this concept of darkness. It is becoming a very sacred area for me. In particular, I love the idea of darkness as a place filled with possibility, and as a space capable of holding light. As light illuminates an expanding universe of darkness, so too can our ideas light the way to more complex understandings, deeper truths, and an increased ability to love. While I honor the darkness for these reasons and this space, I am discovering, however, that I value it because of the experince of light I am able to bring to it. It is the loving and learning that sustain me, not the possibility to love or learn. Or, to speak through the language of the Midrash, it is the experince of lighting a candle, or having my candle lit, and enjoying the warm light with others afterwards, that I believe has forever delivered me into this glorious life of teaching and learning.