Monday, March 30, 2009

Enjoying the dark, knowing the dark

I enjoyed our family's small participation in Earth Hour on Saturday night. When 8:25 rolled around and our kitchen timer went off as a reminder, I realized I hadn't replaced our stubby dining room candles with fresh ones or located other ones that could help us out for the hour without electric lights. It was probably 8:35 by the time I was candle-ready, turned out the lights, and started to settle into the candlelit darkness (albeit with book and flashlight for part of the time).

I always enjoy these voluntary tastes of darkness, and even sometimes the involuntary power outage ones. They somehow only reinforce the sense that we human animals would benefit from tasting of "real darkness" more often. The absence of electric glare has a calming, quieting effect. Once more I found myself way more relaxed than I would have been after an hour of more "electrified" activities. (Which is not to say that I'm ready to give up electricity altogether. But maybe less?)

This morning I remembered a lovely poem, "To Know the Dark," by Wendell Berry, about getting to know the darkness outside. Here it is (though I can't vouch for the line breaks, or even that this is the whole of it):

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark.
Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.

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