PW and I have been talking a lot about dark matter, dark energy, the Higgs boson, stuff like that. We like to pretend we’re theoretical physicists, being the thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies that we are.
And behold! We’re at the Winter Solstice, the day of the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. Bazillions of folks who don’t care (or even know) what the Mayan calendar says about any other day of the year are suddenly going on about the end of the world. I bet the folks in the Southern Hemisphere can’t wait for our world to end so we’ll quit our bellyaching about all this darkness.
I have to say, I’m a fan of the darkness. Don’t get me wrong; I’m right there, complaining about how few hours of daylight there are; I can’t wait for more daylight hours. And. This morning–as I was walking to the bus in the close and cloudy damp, through the wind that was blowing everywhichaway, playing chicken with the occasional burst of raindrops–I thought, “Come on, darkness. I’ll dance with you.” Maybe that’s what happens when you get into one of those theoretical physicist grooves.
Once I was safely planted in my plastic bus seat for my commute into the big city, I decided I should share a few Solsice-y things with my Crooked Liners.
First, did you know that the “cataclysmic event” definition of the word “apocalypse” is a modern invention? I didn’t. The word originates from the Greek apokalyptein, which means “uncover, disclose, reveal.” Its general sense in Middle English was “insight, vision, hallucination.” I copied that from etymonline.com, so you know it’s true. Couldn’t we all use a little more insight and vision, maybe a GOOD hallucination or two? And isn’t it possible that some of the best insights and visions come to us under cover of darkness? I just re-read those two questions in a voice that parodies how Mike Wallace asked questions on 60 Minutes, and I encourage you to do the same.
The second thing I want to share with you is this excerpt from a poem by Yehuda Amichai. I’m willing to forgive his notion of God as male, because the ideas here are so refreshing:
from the poem “Gods Change, Prayers are Here to Stay”
by Yehuda Amichai
from the book Open Closed Open: Poems
I don’t want an invisible god. I want a god who is seen
but doesn’t see, so I can lead him around
and tell him what he doesn’t see. And I want
a god who sees and is seen. I want to see
how he covers his eyes, like a child playing blindman’s bluff.
I want a god who is like a window I can open
so I’ll see the sky even when I’m inside.
I want a god who is like a door that opens out, not in,
but God is like a revolving door, which turns, turns on its hinges
in and out, whirling and turning
without a beginning, without an end.
I declare with perfect faith
that prayer preceded God.
Prayer created God,
God created human beings,
human beings create prayers
that create the God that creates human beings.
Third, I stumbled across this Rose Cousins song yesterday. The chorus of “The Darkness” is from Wendell Berry’s beautiful little meditation on darkness.
To Know The Dark
by Wendell Berry
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
I think Wendell Berry would be pleased with what Rose Cousins has made of his poem. Happy Solstice to all, and to all a dark, apocalyptic night–in the original sense of the word.