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It is dark this year! Not just at the beginning of Advent, but it has been thus all year! So I offer a prayer in the Dark:

God, the world is dark at the beginning of this year. I am often anxious in the dark–of noises that frighten, of shapes that threaten, at memories that haunt. This year so much seems so much darker–the grief of the planet, the chaos in nations, the loss of hope in the community of peoples.

The lives of people I love are dark. Illness, loneliness, catastrophic loss,deep sorrow, frustration and boredom all cut hug swaths of attention, intention and aspiration, energy. They, and I, struggle to keep finding the light and the places where it can get in.

As I age I notice more darkness in me–my response to my limitations, with less patience for the change and decay in the world, my feeling less powerful to make a difference, fewer days in which I can persist.

Yet I am sure and I trust that You are in the dark too, with me, and in the world. Along with the psalmist, I know that “my darkness is not dark to you!” When I lift up my head and look around, I see that there are glimmers of Light shining–in communities that gather to rescue, save and preserve; in churches that act on their convictions to care for the poor, widows and children; in generous souls who keep on with their acts of great love and their constant presence to those in pain, whether it is received with grace or not.

So today I light my first candle of Advent to add both my witness to the Light in which I trust, and to signal my commitment to be a bearer of that Light in to the places that I go. I light it to remember that as the gospeller John tells us, You the Light are the Light of God and the darkness cannot put it, or You, out! By Your Spirit I can fan my sparks of hope, despite the “encircling gloom,” despite the ugliness that passes for common discourse in these times, no matter the catastrophe of the hour.

As I write this, the radio begins to play, “Lux Aeterna,” by Morton Lauridsen, Eternal Light. Yes, Light of the Holy, You never are extinguished, even in times of deep darkness.This Advent, while feeling blanketed by darkness, I am joining Your Light for the world, even as we wait for your coming again in the world.