Several years ago, I went looking for stories for the winter solstice that celebrate darkness, rather than only focusing on the celebration of the returning light. Finding that challenging, I expanded my search to any story in celebration of darkness. I spent an afternoon looking at every single picture book in a local bookstore, and found one that sort of fit the bill, Stellaluna, by Jannell Cannon, in which a young bat discovers her proper place in the nighttime. I’ve found a few more since then, but it is clear that there are not enough stories for this time of year that celebrate the darkness itself. So, I have been writing a story in celebration of darkness every year for the past four years. Here is this year’s story. (To read previous stories, go here, here, and here.)
Light In The Beginning
In the beginning, there was light. Brilliant, awesome, relentless light. The light was everywhere. The light permeated everything. The light was everything. The light gleamed, and the light admired its own gleaming. The light shone, and the light admired its own shining. The light dazzled, and the light admired its own dazzling.
And then the light began to wish for someone else to admire its gleaming, shining, dazzling lightself. This wish turned into a wanting and the wanting turned into a longing. And so, the light decided to make a world.
Out of itself, the light fashioned the world. Land and sea and sky. Mountains and valleys and rivers. Fungi and bacteria. All manner of plants: grasses and low flowers, shrubs and bushes, trees of every description And all manner of animals: birds and fish and insects and reptiles and furry ones and people. Out of itself, the light made a whole world. And the light completely surrounded and permeated this new world. Everywhere in the world there was light. Brilliant, awesome, relentless light.
The light sat back from its labors, awestruck by its own brilliance. And the light waited for the land and the sea and the sky, the mountains and the valleys and the rivers, the fungi and the bacteria, the plants and the animals to admire the light the way the light admired its own lightself.
But they did not! They did not even seem to notice the light. How could they not notice the light?! What arrogance! What ungratefulness! What horrendous conceit for the world not to notice the brilliant, awesome, perfection of light that had brought it into being!
The light was angry! And then the light was sad. Oh, so sad. The light had never felt so alone, even when the light had been alone. It made the light want to curl up into a ball. That felt like a good idea. So the light did just that. The light gathered in the farthest reaches of its lightself. Gathered in and in all of the light, gathered in tighter and tighter and smaller and smaller, curling into a ball and curled in on all that anger and sadness.
Into the space left by the light, someone new came. Not the light, not the world the light had made. Something really new – something that did not come from the light. Something different and distinct. Into the space left by the light, darkness came.
On the world, darkness came and began to spread. This was new! This was different and unexpected! And to the light’s great consternation, the land and the sea and the sky, the mountains and the valleys and the rivers, the fungi and the bacteria, the plants and the animals, they noticed! They noticed this new darkness. And what’s more, they loved it! They loved the peacefulness and the calm that came with it. They loved the possibilities it offered – that not everything could be seen all the time, but that there might be mystery and surprise. They loved the rest it offered. They loved the darkness!
Oh, how sad light was then! Light curled in even tighter, and hid away from the world, leaving the world in total darkness. And light curled in all that misery and felt so sad and sorry for its lightself.
And then light felt a very gentle touch on the edge of its curled in self. A very gentle touch offering comfort, offering presence, offering love. Light was so shocked and surprised that it forgot for a moment to feel sad and wondered instead who had offered this touch of love. Light looked, and it was darkness! Darkness offering love to light. And even though it was darkness who had taken the admiration from the world that rightly should have belonged to light, the touch was so full of genuine love that light found it could not hate darkness. In fact, light began to see why the world loved darkness so much. There was such tenderness and care in darkness.
The light began to uncurl ever so slightly, and as it did, the world began to see the light again, ever so slightly. And then a most amazing thing happened. Now that the world had known darkness, suddenly, it noticed light! The land and the sea and the sky, the mountains and the valleys and the rivers, the fungi and the bacteria, the plants and the animals, they all noticed light for the first time.
Loving the Light
And having spent some time in darkness, they also loved the light. They loved the way it allowed them to see more clearly. They loved the warmth that it brought with it. They loved the richness of the colors they noticed for the first time. The plants loved the nourishment the light provided. The whole world loved the light with a deep and genuine appreciation.
And light was so happy! Light had not known it was possible to be this happy! Light was noticed and loved by the things light had created. And light was also loved by the new one, the darkness. What joy!
And so light and darkness came to be partners. They shared the world, taking turns and dancing around each other so that every part of the world knew both light and darkness. And they loved each other and the world, and still do, to this day.