by: Emily Meeks
When she removed the eyeshade from my eyes, I was not prepared for the light. I scrunched my eyes to try and smooth out the crinkles of light from the studio windows. The final minutes of Shavasana, a resting position often used as a final pose in yoga, had felt like a cocoon in the darkness where I was able to slip into a place of stillness that I had not experienced in some time. The moment when the darkness dropped away was the moment I longed for the dark to remain.
The next day in a lectionary bible study, we discussed the upcoming texts of Trinity Sunday that tell the story of creation, particularly those words of Genesis 1:1-5 that introduce light and darkness.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
How many times I have read or listened to these words and let them fade – as if familiarity is reason to distance oneself from the depth of their meaning. One of the blessings of the lectionary is that it brings opportunities for oft-read selections to be heard anew. This time, I could not help but be drawn into the story with renewed wonder and awe.
The discussion of the use of “light” and “dark” in biblical language and its range of connotations and applications is not new. What I heard this time in the Genesis reading was a sense of interconnection between light and dark – a gradient of sorts that uniquely functions to reveal the qualities of each holding purpose in our daily lives as sourced by the Holy.
Living in Seattle, the longer days of summer transform the city into interwoven colors of people and picnic blankets. Solstice – June 21 – is celebrated here in a way that I never experienced growing up in the southeast. This orientation toward light comes out of an emergence of prolonged gray, drizzle and waterproof gear that seems to take a rest in the summer months.
The week after that yoga experience, I took a redeye to Toronto – something I had told myself that at 36 I would never do again because foregoing is folly in the face of “saving time.” Anyway, as I slid into 30A, I realized I would have the row to myself. With that extra seat, I contoured my body into a mishmash of yoga poses mid flight and slept.
The next time my eyes opened, I saw the sun spilling onto the horizon of clouds, the great face of the waters extending in every direction. Two hours of sleep in the darkness made the colors more brilliant, yet I felt sustained by a short time marked by dimmed cabin lights. The words of Genesis 1 flowed into my thoughts as I sensed the majesty of the earth below, above and around me both in light and shadow.
Most days I long for the eyeshade and dimmed cabin lights to be removed – to feel my body turn toward the light as if a sunflower facing east toward the rising of the sun.
God separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
I am left wondering if light and darkness are written as separate for humans not to limit the interconnectedness but to distinctly notice and enjoy the ways each gives new dimension to life and points toward the Creator, the one who brings both Day and Night and calls it good – the One who sees with vision that we cannot even fathom. The Psalmist perhaps writes of this in Psalm 139:12, “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
On Sunday, one of my favorite hymns, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” is the Song of Praise and the first verse encapsulates this connection strengthening in me – how both light and dark are the creative expressions of the Holy, and for that, both can always be good.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
Emily Meeks loves finding adventure and connection outside, especially while running, biking, hiking and kayaking. She attends and serves at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.