The Patterns of Light and Dark
by Trish Eckert
Adapted from a message given to Farmington Friends Meeting on January 10, 2021.
In Genesis, the Biblical song of creation, God causes light to shine in darkness, separates the waters from the dry land, and brings forth plants and animals, creatures of sea and sky, and creeping things. God also pronounces a blessing on all that God made, saying, “And it was good.” Each day, evening and morning, God’s Word sounded forth and created. Each day God saw what had been made and called it “good.”
I imagine many of us are feeling unsettled and anxious, overwhelmed and tired, as we continue to face the realities of COVID and the countless challenges that have intensified in the wake of the virus. We are immersed in chaos and it is difficult to step back and gain perspective or predict how things might unfold. In response, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and praying and reflecting.
In “The True Patterns of the Universe,” Brian McLaren writes, “Creation reveals wisdom through its patterns. It reveals wisdom about its source and purpose and about our quest to be alive . . . if we are paying attention.” He also notes that we struggle with how to interpret these patterns and he points out that, “If we had only our worst experiences in life to guide us, that might be our conclusion.”
In thinking about all that is unfolding around us and the turbulence we experience in the midst of transitions and the unknown, I reflected on the story of creation in Genesis. If we are mindful about being part of God’s good creation—and each of us is part of God’s creation—then with all that feels random and chaotic we can center down into the knowledge that even if we can’t perceive the sequencing of things, there is a universal pattern that undergirds everything. As McLaren observes, “The universe is God’s creative project, filled with beauty, opportunity, challenge, and meaning. It runs on the meaning or pattern we see embodied in the life of Jesus. In this story, pregnancy abounds. Newness multiplies. Freedom grows. Meaning expands. Wisdom flows. Healing happens. Goodness runs wild.”
Goodness runs wild—I like the sound of that. It seems that everything else runs wild, so why not goodness? Our world, this life, our days are often filled with paradox and confusion and turmoil. How do we hold on to what is meaningful and life-giving when there is grief and death and disorder surrounding us?
In thinking about blessing, gratitude, creation, and light, I strive to understand our roles as individuals and the responsibility we each have in creating the world around us. Just as God creates and proclaims it good, we have the opportunity to create alongside (or co-create) with God. The song of creation in Genesis reminds us that we are not in charge of creation and we do not create anything on our own. We are invited to work with the Source. Neither standing back and letting things happen nor stepping in with a heavy hand to try to control the final outcome is desirable. How can we be partners with God in the ongoing work? Imagine what the world could be like if we were each focused on multiplying newness, growing freedom, expanding meaning, flowing with wisdom, and bringing about healing.
God separates creation into elements that can interact and relate to one another. What is the light without the darkness? What is the darkness without the light? They are in relationship with one another—and God created the entire cosmos in the same relational manner. Ultimately, we need both light and dark. The complexities and paradoxes are part of what makes up God’s good creation and we are all called to be part of it.