CORPORATE CHAPLAINS CANADA

On Thresholds of Light and Darkness

Monday, March 23, 2020

 

We live life as a series of thresholds, different experiences that evoke a range of feelings and understandings. In the creation of our world, God established marks of separation.

And God said , “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,”  And it was so….  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day” (Genesis 1:14 -15, 19).

I find it fascinating that God introduced both the light and the dark into our world. 

We think— sometimes naively—that it would be a better world without darkness. On one hand, God does not have anything to do with darkness, but, of course, light is the contrast to the dark. 

As we grow, we develop a relationship with the physical darkness around us and become aware of spiritual darkness. We often wonder if any of God’s light can touch us there.  I have talked to men and women who feel extremely frustrated with their lives because a deep sense of darkness within them is manifest as loneliness, shame, and lack of self-worth: “If you really knew me you would not like me or love me.”

In his book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, John O’Donohue cautions us about our desire to “invade the Divine,” which he uses to refer to the sacred space around a temple, or in this case, our soul.

He writes:

“The soul is too intense and hungry; the soul stays hidden. The soul was never meant to be seen completely. It is more at home in a light that is hospitable to shadow” (p. 81).

Our reality is that we live with our shadows and struggle with how and what to reveal from our places of darkness.

O’Donohue goes on to suggest that candlelight creates a gentle welcome:

“It gently opens up caverns in the darkness and prompts the imagination into activity. The candle allows the darkness to keep its secrets. There is shadow and color within every candle flame. Candlelight perception is the most respectful and appropriate form of light with which to approach the inner world. It does not force our tormented transparency upon the mystery. Candlelight perception has the finesse and reverence appropriate to the mystery and autonomy of soul. Such perception is at home at the threshold.”

I find this hard to believe, having received admonitions to have no secrets and to “invade the Divine” regularly.  I am now much older, so I realize that I do keep some secrets and that when I search my soul, I need not take a harsh spotlight or set up a neon display.

I can travel this journey with a candle and move gently, without a robust, or violent, enthusiasm.

Years ago, my counsellor said that fear and excitement can be the head and tail of the same coin. I found it helpful to understand that my fear before batting in a baseball game was more related to excitement than to what I experience when I anticipate climbing a ladder.

I was delighted to read the Genesis account and remember that the lights in the sky’s dome were created for dividing day from night. They were to be “for signs and for seasons and for days and years.”

Light and darkness were made, then, for thresholds of time. 

As I reflect on time thresholds in my own life, I recognize that some memories are more difficult than others. Often my grief is connected to certain dates on the calendar as I remember the death of loved ones and friends. The light does not easily disperse this kind of darkness, as Mia’s recent poem suggests:

Sorrow

I slept in the sadness

All night in the dark

Awakening to morning brightness

Of a sun-kissed landscape

But the sadness persisted

 

When we deal with our deep sadnesses and grief, they can continue to transform us over many years.

This is part of our days and seasons, and even in new beginnings, when we pass through thresholds in time, we can pay attention to both the darkness and the light.

Any thoughts on the light and the dark and your thresholds of life?  Light a candle and write me a note.

 

This article was written by Al McKay, a Chaplain, in collaboration with Mia McKay. To read more articles from our Corporate Chaplains, you can visit our Chaplains Blogs. You can write Al a note through email at amckay@chaplains.ca. 

 

 

 

 


print



Memory and Hope Memory and Hope

Memory and Hope are twin companions - at Christmas, as well as throughout our year - mingling the p...
Read More..

Christmas in a Time of Numbers Christmas in a Time of Numbers

At this particular time in history, we are inundated with numbers.  Over the past nine months,...
Read More..

Port Chaplains Adapt to COVID-19 Pandemic Port Chaplains Adapt to COVID-19 Pandemic

The Chaplain Ministry for seafarers has had to change & adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill sh...
Read More..

Insight & Oversight: A Story of Blindness Insight & Oversight: A Story of Blindness

Every person and thing we encounter has a story, but often our own story and our own filters, like ...
Read More..

Coming Full Circle Coming Full Circle

Once an engineer at the marine terminals in Vancouver, life came full circle for Bill Wong when he ...
Read More..

Should Pastors be Required to Marry All? Should Pastors be Required to Marry All?

Should pastors be required to marry any couple that asks, including same-sex couples? Where is the ...
Read More..

Better Together: The Story of Lazarus Better Together: The Story of Lazarus

Exploring the story of an East Side Kid & the story of Lazarus. Did Jesus believe in "Better Togeth...
Read More..

Fear of my Lord Fear of my Lord

My comforter yes. Yet I feel, I confess, a faint trace of disquietude in His presence. Not bec...
Read More..

This is our Moment This is our Moment

I believe that the church is the essential service in a broken world, and this is our moment. Will ...
Read More..

On Thresholds of Light and Darkness On Thresholds of Light and Darkness

We think— sometimes naively—that it would be a better world without darkness. On one hand, God does...
Read More..

Dawn of New Life Dawn of New Life

After an experience with a brain aneurism, Terry experiences two different voices speaking into his...
Read More..

A Port Chaplains Reflections A Port Chaplain's Reflections

Every day, port chaplains are reaching out to seafarers that arrive on ships to the Port of Vancouv...
Read More..

Is Gratitude a Virtue? Is Gratitude a Virtue?

I believe having an “attitude of gratitude”, as the cliché goes, is a good character trait especial...
Read More..

Transformational Gratitude. Transformational Gratitude.

A story years in the making. A Chaplains Story. Looking a little like Jesus strolling down the...
Read More..

Grace & Gratitude Grace & Gratitude

Jesus' words, as quoted by Paul: “In everything I have shown you that by such hard work, we must he...
Read More..

Awkward Questions Awkward Questions

Often simple social situations give rise to awkward questions that, on the surface, seem innocent e...
Read More..

The Story of a Skeptical Manager & A Corporate Chaplain The Story of a Skeptical Manager & A Corporate Chaplain

This is the story of a Skeptical Manager & A Corporate Chaplain... Ronnie looked stern and gru...
Read More..

A Three Act Play: We are Wellness Chaplains A Three Act Play: "We are Wellness Chaplains"

God is a playwright who is deeply interested in character development; and he uses all sorts of plo...
Read More..

Conversations with a Chaplain Conversations with a Chaplain

“I don’t know where my anger is coming from.” Randy looked down intently at his French Vanilla...
Read More..

Corporate Chaplains Canada Corporate Chaplains Canada

Supporting business owners, management and employees as they face life's realities at work and hom...
Read More..

...

Breathe! It's Thanksgiving
Breathing connects us and reminds us to be forever grateful for the gift of life in relationship with the Creator and with each other.
Read more...
Ready To Try Something New? Why you need a Chaplain…
Interested in what a workplace chaplaincy program could add to your organization? We’d love to talk to you!
Read more...
Living in Hope
We are clinging to any sign of hope. Yet, it does not take long before we realize that these hopes are on shaky ground. Circumstances change and suddenly we are afloat, looking for another lifebuoy of hope on which to c...
Read more...
Memory and Hope
Memory and Hope are twin companions - at Christmas, as well as throughout our year - mingling the past with the future as we walk in the present.
Read more...
Christmas in a Time of Numbers
At this particular time in history, we are inundated with numbers.  Over the past nine months, I have become exhausted by daily reports about the pandemic—new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, comparisons. Life has ...
Read more...
Port Chaplains Adapt to COVID-19 Pandemic
The Chaplain Ministry for seafarers has had to change & adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill shares some of the challenges, and some of the joys of ministering to the seafarers during this season. 
Read more...
Insight & Oversight: A Story of Blindness
Every person and thing we encounter has a story, but often our own story and our own filters, like beliefs and prejudices, hinder our ability to truly see others or even ourselves. A exploration of Luke 7 - Jesus Annoin...
Read more...
Coming Full Circle
Once an engineer at the marine terminals in Vancouver, life came full circle for Bill Wong when he returned to the same marine terminals, but this time as a Chaplain.
Read more...
 

 

2 - 7201 72 Street Delta BC V4G 1M5