There’s an innate craving to be safe in the darkness. It has an enwombing quality about it. So I love to pray in our chapel when there’s just the whisper of light coming from a votive candle. It’s a very safe, nurturing space. Most of us choose to sleep in the dark, and that’s full of meaning: it’s how we began our life in our mother’s womb, and it’s how we restore our life, day by day.

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Don’t worry when you’re in a place of darkness. God is there as well. There’s nowhere God is not. In fact, we can experience profound times of spiritual growth in times of darkness.

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When I was in the seminary, I had the chance to attend the Easter Vigil at Canterbury Cathedral. First they light a bonfire. Then the most amazing thing happens: everybody takes a candle, and we all enter with our candles, one by one, into this huge, cavernous, pitch-black space, until every candle is lit and you can see the whole place illuminated by this warm glow that reaches all the way to the ceiling. “Oh,” I thought, “this is it. This is what it means.”

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There’s something I find incredibly reassuring about how God separates light from darkness. Orchestrating it all with infinite possibilities, God decides to create a cadence of light and darkness to fill each day. It’s true about the soul, too: we can only bear so much light. If there’s too much light coming at us, we’re blinded. Light can be as blinding as darkness.

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One of the things I love about Saint John’s Gospel is how it is shot through with a dialectic between darkness and light. From the beginning of the Prologue, John makes it clear that the light shines in the darkness. Even though the darkness is there, light will always overcome that darkness.

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After air, light is the dimension of our experience of the natural world that is the most intangible. It’s invisible, but without it we can’t see anything. It’s like God: God is invisible, but without God we can’t see anything or relate to anything. Without God, we have no being.

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Everything that I do in the chapel is actually an act of praise, thanksgiving, and adoration to God, who’s gazing at me. And I’m returning that gaze – wanting to return that gaze every moment I have because I’m so in love with Jesus.

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