12 October 2007

explaining darkness into light

The question has only been asked of us a couple of times: “What is this ‘darkness into light’ stuff?”

One astute reader found a connection between Hasidic-Reggae artist Matisyahu and the blog title. Others, we can only assume, created their own realities (or more likely never gave it much thought).

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The truth is that the blog title was dually influenced by the bible and a certain Matisyahu song.

The bible-writer John, in particular, talks a lot about darkness and light. Never is it more profound than when Jesus drops “I am the light of the world” on everyone in John 8:12. He goes on to say that, “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So, I think, in a very simple way, that is the essence of the blog title. Jesus is light of the world. And we can feed hungry kids, but it won’t satisfy them. We can bring water to the parched lips of the desperate here, but that will never quench their thirst. The only thing that will last is Jesus, the light. And so, we seek darkness (injustice, oppression, poverty – spiritual, physical, or otherwise) and we seek to bring the light to it.

A second, much more subtle idea that sits behind the blog title does indeed come from Matisyahu and his song “Warrior”. As a Hasidic Jew (read: orthodox – Google it), Matisyahu raps about some very deep, profound subjects. He also shares our history through the Torah.

During a performance of this song, he took a minute to explain where the idea came from:

“Hasidis explains that everything in this world, everything in this life has an inner essence and an inner soul. And when it started out, before the soul was reincarnated into this life, into this body and time and place that we find ourselves…it was basking above in the rays of Godliness. And it comes into this world for one reason, you know: that it should transform the darkness into light. It should take the darkness of this world and make it light…”

Now, the word “reincarnated” scares a lot of people. But this isn’t the idea that I will die and come back as a gerbil or a carburetor or something in my next life. This is the idea that our soul was known to God before our physical bodies existed on this earth. This is the idea that somehow, we existed with Him in paradise and that He has hidden that beauty and that “light” deep within us. It is this idea that leads many Christians today to believe that when we encounter “Truth” (i.e. God’s glory in Jesus), we know it to be true not because of some evidence or emotional experience, but because we “remember” it.

So, Matisyahu quotes an idea that says that we are known to God and He sends us into the world in order to bring the darkness into the light, in order to bring glory back to His name.

There are Bible passages that correspond. Check Ecclesiastes 3:11… “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

“He has set eternity in the hearts of men…” That is a really rich idea: That, somehow, we know what eternity is like. That maybe the reason that no amount of money or sex or power or status can please us is because we know of something (somewhere in the depths of our soul) that surpasses all of those things. Somewhere, God has set eternity and its beauty within us. Mysteriously beautiful…

2 Corinthians 4:6 says this: “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

God made His light to shine in our hearts. Is that incredible to you? It freaks me out. God did this to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ? I cannot even fathom the glory of God, much less that somewhere within me I possess the knowledge of it. Like I said, mysteriously beautiful…

Embracing all of that, darkness into light.

Here are the exact lyrics to the Matisyahu song I spoke of:


You're a warrior fighting for your soul
Taken from the world above and brought down the world below

You're the son of his majesty
Remember how it used to be
In the light of day it's easy to see
Now it's nighttime
You had to leave

Separated from the king
Now the water's rushing and you keep trying to swim against the stream
And it seems, like your not moving the many water's gushing you gasp for air
Almost drowning ears ringing, once upon a time we were singing
One day the trees will stand and clap hands
Stream of thought getting caught in the klipa, this place is just a shell, external
Egos swell, that one'll burn ya, we fell a long way down, that eternal frown'll get you
You look vexed it's the dregs, the yetzer hara's lurking
Trying to make you forget we got a job to do
You're a priest and a prince and you can't be moved

You're a warrior, Fighting for your soul
Taken from a world above, and brought down to a world below
Re-united, re-united return the princess to the king,
Re-united, re-united, she's been taken for so long
Re-united, re-united and then she'll be filled with joy
Re-united, re-united like the days of her youth

Descended to the pit
What's this feeling can't get rid of it
Soul sick
Can't seem to shake it
When one retires at night weeping, joy will come in the morning
You made my mountain stand strong


Like and ancient memory
Remember how it used to be
Close your eyes and breath in
That's the scent of freedom
Ringing across the sea
Land of milk and honey
One day will wake up from this dream and we'll stop sleeping,
Oh, yo, then we'll see clearly


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