Spiritual Practice


Darren Wright

Our family recently moved for the second time this year, but this time we did it with a 5-week-old! Moving is tough on everyone—new places, new sights, new roads, new friends, new challenges, new stars.

Milky Way. Beautiful summer night sky with stars in Crimea.

Well, perhaps not new stars. We moved only 300 kilometers from our previous home, but the stars here look different. Living for the last 12 years in a rural part of New South Wales, Australia, we had grown accustomed to being able to see the stars bright above us.

If you have been camping overnight, perhaps you noticed that the stars look brighter and the sky appears clearer and more vibrant. Without the onslaught of city lights, our eyes adjust and we start to see stars we didn’t even know existed. Smaller stars suddenly pop out of the sky. We can sit back and be awed by the beauty above us.

Now that we live closer to a city, the stars seem duller. Some seem to have disappeared. The lights around us hide the stars from our eyes. When we’re surrounded by light, our eyes become accustomed to it and the darkness starts to seem darker.

At Christmastime, lights are everywhere—neon, flashing, musical, loud, blinking, colorful lights. With so many lights around us, we can miss things that we might have seen otherwise. In this season, as we reflect on Jesus being the light of the world, we might be fooled into believing that Christ’s light must be brighter than all the other lights that fill our space during these holy days. But I invite you to look at this another way.

This week, find some time to escape the blinding lights and glowing screens that overwhelm your senses, and allow your eyes to adjust. Try not to be afraid of the darkness, as if Christ is not present there. Rather, welcome the darkness, for in it you may discover the light of Christ—not a blinding burst of color or a cacophony of flashing lights, but the light that can change us, that can help us begin to see the stars in the sky with different eyes.

Jesus, the light of the world, was born to an unwed couple on the outskirts of town, among the animals, under a star that marked the way—a star that perhaps could not have been seen without giving our eyes enough time in the darkness to adjust.



Burning of the candle in a hand in darknessThis week find a place where you can sit in the dark. Light a candle, and sit for a while; then blow out the candle and wait. Let your eyes adjust to the light that is available to you, and revel in the beauty and light you find in the darkness.

You might try this in your backyard, in your church, in your bedroom, in a park, on a mountain, or by a river—alone or with family or friends. If you want a prayer to reflect on as you befriend the darkness and seek the light, listen to the Taizé prayer song “In Our Darkness” based on Psalm 139:12 (NRSV): “Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

May this Christmas remind you that even in the darkness we can find the light of the world and be changed by it.

Darren Wright ministers in the Uniting Church in Australia in Gungahlin, Canberra. Over the years he’s collected an array of weird and wonderful nativity scenes, including a rubber duck nativity that is displayed under his Christmas tree each year.

—from devozine (November/December 2018). Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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