Yesterday I visited with a man who, with his brother, is tilling about 8 acres of borrowed land with all kinds of fresh good food. At the beginning of next week, they will be at one of the local Farmer’s Markets to sell their wares. We talked about farming and pulled horsetails from among the onions. The size of the onions caught my eye. I could swear the land was bare a month ago, freshly tilled and planted. Now, some of the pungent plants were large enough to throw on a grill to add zest to whatever’s cooking. They seemed to have lept out of the ground, pushing vigorously up into the sunshine, swelling with life and goodness. The reason came to me this morning when my bladder insisted a rise from slumber at quarter to five. It was already light outside. Last night the fading of the sun pushed the nine o’clock hour. With almost 16 hours of light to photosynthesize, fertile ground and sufficient moisture, there is nothing to keep these little guys from growing like weeds—except the weeds themselves that have the same advantages! Such is light.
The spiritual traditions of the world often use light and darkness to speak of the deeper dimensions of the human experience. Living in the light allows one to thrive and grow. Darkness symbolizes a setback, a misguided effort, or outright evil. On the other hand, light is sometimes the image of radical truth-telling, of purging, weeding, if you will, from which we fear we will not emerge intact. Darkness is womblike nurturing in which life is first begun. Back and forth we go between sets of images until we realize that both are always true. The human condition is a conversation between light and dark that falls finally into the silence of the Eternal Now.