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The Great Both-And

And they all lived happily ever after. The end.

Don’t we love stories that end that way? We close the book with a happy sigh - “I wish life could be that way.”

We love stories and TV shows and movies with tidy fairy tale endings, endings with all the loose strands tied up, everyone holding hands or singing a song, looking deeply into each other’s eyes conveying messages of love, smiling and sharing loving hugs.

All Light and rainbows and tulips. And the implication is that after we close the book with a satisfied snap, or turn the TV or the movie off, that happily ever after, with sunshine and tulips and dancing bunnies continues on and on and on, ad infinitum.

In a similar fashion, many, if not most of us think of God as being only Light. Beautiful, pure, Good, white light. Angels, same thing - depicted as glowing with the goodness of white light. Jesus was even stripped of his brown skin and made white just like the white light that we were taught is God. And we come by it honestly - we are taught this in both our religious and spiritual traditions.

And we’re taught, that if we can only get “it” right, whatever ‘it’ is, our lives will one day reflect this amazing good, all the time. No more challenges, just Light, Light and more Light - good stuff happening every moment, overflowing with everything we could possibly want. If we could only get “it” right.

But if we think of God as only pure, white Light, what does that say about darkness then? Is the darkness, then, not of God? When the sun sets and darkness creeps over the land, is that a time in the 24-hour cycle that is not of God?

When we close our eyes and sink into the darkness behind our lowered eyelids to meditate in order to commune with God, is that darkness not of God?

What about the darkness of the soil, which harbors the seed as it waits to sprout new life? Is God not there? What about the darkness of the womb, where embryos develop into little humans, kittens, puppies, ponies, giraffes and dolphins? Is God not there? What about the darkness of the inside of a chrysalis… is God not there?

Is our shadow, then, not of God?

The truth is darkness and light are part of the world of duality. And both are held by something much larger. That something is the Ground of ALL being. That ‘something’ is what holds us when we think all is lost and is that same something that holds us when we feel like we are dancing on stars.

It’s both/and.

From Psalm 139:12: “Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.”

If we think of God as being only Light, then what do we make of darkness? Is it not of God? If it isn’t of God, then suddenly we are in quite a pickle. For then we now have one something that is of God and one something that is not of God and then God cannot be Infinite, because only one something can be Infinite.

If we think of God as only being Light, we want to only embrace the light in us, while moving away from the dark in us - and what is that dark we’re moving away from? Not God? Why would we do that if All is God?

What happens to those places inside of us that we move away from? We’ve heard it said that in difficult times people feel like God abandoned them, but if we’re the ones walking away from that which we deem “dark,” who is doing the leaving?

(Not that any of us can truly leave - for there is only one something out of which we are made. It is all of what and who we are. We can truly only think that we’re walking away, pulling the blinds down, pretending that we are somehow separate.)

So, what if we explore a different understanding of and relationship to darkness?

In Buddhism, darkness means the inability to see or recognize the truth, particularly the true nature of one’s life.

In African Tradition, the dark represents the state of undeveloped potentialities for the future displays of God’s creations—both in unformed Matter and in infinite space. The apparent Darkness is itself Light.

The Tao Te Ching, one of the most important texts in Taoism, teaches that everything in the world, even things that seem to be opposites, are actually connected and part of the same whole.

This from the Tao:

“Free from desire, you realize the mystery.

Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations

arise from the same source.

This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding.”


At this stage of my journey, I see it this way: Light and dark are both expressions of this One Life, this One Oneness, the same as hot and cold, tall and short, wide and narrow, joy and sorrow, tears and laughter. The same as red and blue, green and yellow - simply expressions of an infinite creativity, expressions of the fullness of Itself.

And back of all this creative expression, God as Oneness is big enough to hold it all. Darkness is not bad, it’s just…. Dark. And light is not good, it’s just… light. The seed takes root in the dark soil. The unborn child grows in the darkness of the womb. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly in the dark. Space is dark, nighttime is dark.

As I do my own self exploration into the deep basement of that which I have locked away, I am discovering in these dark places innocence, misunderstanding, relief. These places are delighting in being found, they felt abandoned.

And as I welcome these parts of me home and integrate them, I’m not finding that darkness becomes light within me, but that I can hold it as it is, not needing to change it because it is not bad. It just is.

When we don’t acknowledge God as ALL, then we add to the belief in separation. When we reject the darkness within us as bad, as “Not God” we can’t see that it is as much a part of God as anything else. When we stop separating it out as “other,” we make space for the awareness that the harmonizing vibration of Love is present in it.

When we stop seeing it as “other,” we make space for the insight that Divine Wisdom is present in it. Because it must be, because all that is true of God is true everywhere God is… Which. Is. Everywhere.

What if we re-frame what it means to come in to the light? What if it could be just as wonderful to come into the dark? What if both can be illuminating?

The darkness within me allows me to know the light within me. To recognize it. To make space for it. The light within me allows me to know the darkness within me. To recognize it. To make space for it.

And as I make space for all of it, I find that I can hold it all, and in doing so I am consumed by a harmonizing love that is knitting me back together and I am coming to know my own wholeness.

Brene Brown writes, ““The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”

The truth of the matter is you are light and you are darkness. It’s a both/and. And neither is better than the other - the are both expressions of the divine and you/we are all divine.


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