Perhaps Our Perceived Fear of the Dark Has Been Part of Our Problem.

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One of my earliest childhood memories finds me laying in bed in my grandparent's house with this window that would peer straight toward the stars.

Far from any city lights, I look up toward the sky above, and for the first time, I see what seemed to be an infinitude of stars. I'm still not sure if I was actually dreaming, but I still have the distinct recollection of becoming aware of the immensity of the universe in which we exist. Deeply connecting with the intense mix of awe, fear, and hope that resonated in my body, unable to look away until the stars faded with the first light of day.

I often think back to that night and the deep connection I felt to the natural world. But in recent years, the memory has also taken on a metaphorical connotation, reminiscent of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words of hope, “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

Today, with all that is going on, it is not uncommon to read or hear or believe that we are living in “dark times”—such is the state of the world, uncertainty, and our need for hope in the face of many challenges.
I have spent most of my life thinking of darkness as a problem demanding more light—in both the literal and the symbolic sense. But perhaps this perceived fear of the dark has been part of our collective problem.

For all practical purposes, most of us now live in the glow of our phones, computers, and artificial lights where we rely on technology to offer the connection to one another. But perhaps it is not more light in what we need; but more darkness.

The loss of our connection to darkness and the night sky is symbolic of our deeper separation from the natural world. We need to question instead how to reconnect to the night. To be awed by it, and bathed in its beauty, to know that if we are patient, we will be able to see through the darkness. To embrace the night and surrender to it, understanding that without darkness we are not just incomplete … we fail to dream.
I think back again on the voice of Martin Luther King Jr., the famous dream maker, who saw stars through the darkness.


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