The Journey to Resurrection
(Lent, Holy Week and Easter in a Monastery) Day 3
“Light and Darkness”
“When the soul takes refuge in the knowledge of real truth, in the power where we recognize God. Then the soul can call itself light.” Meister Eckhart
Much of Monastic life is lived in darkness. Here the Monks rise at 5:30 am every day that is not a major feast or Sunday. It is always dark. Compline too at night is most of the year sung in the dark except some Summer months. Darkness is always in contrast with the light. Darkness like silence can seem overwhelming. We wander in the darkness and at times we even stumble.
The Spiritual journey is a constant dance between darkness and light. We search, we long, we grope in the darkness looking for some clarity that will help us on our path.
Lent for the Orthodox is know as the “bright sadness”. (Alexander Schmemann). Much of our Lenten journey is in darkness. The liturgical color is usually purple in most churches. The darkness of the season is in total contrast with the Divine Light of the Resurrection.
The Service of Tenebrae (darkness) in Holy Week places great emphasis on this light and darkness as 14 candles are extinguished one by one during the psalms and lamentations until only
One candle is left which is taken away for a moment and returned to the church after a loud sound is made. The light of the resurrection is never extinguished even in the darkest moments.
Light is at the heart of our existence for we know that it was Light that separated the darkness at creation.
Much of life’s journey is a discovery of our true selves, our own internal light. When we take that journey seriously and begin to accept our true identity in the light of God’s mercy and goodness then we too become light as we reflect our true selves. Only until we embrace that truth can we begin to see the light that shines in the darkness for others. This is what God in humanity truly alive is all about.
I spent much of the night last night in my room in total darkness still overcome by jet lag. I still have not recovered from the transatlantic trip. I have chosen not to despair even if it takes a few days to get a good nights sleep. The dark hours of the night are also comforting knowing that God is present in both darkness and light.
I have come to the Monastery this week seeking the Light. The light of resurrection. But deep down I know that this light will come only after I have grappled with some of the dark corners of my being that are still hidden in the
darkness. As I seek the interiority of the Kingdom deep with in me in this passion tide, I trust that like the Springtime that surrounds me here in Bavaria with blooming trees and sprouting grass and daffodils, that light will eventually flow into my soul.
“Let us open our interior outlook, and in a perfect solitude with God, become conscious of what Christ brings to us;
A new world, a world of interiority, which is given to us by God, for us. It is a mystery of Presence.” Meister Eckhart.