This morning I received an invitation to participate in a photography contest whose theme is "Fading Light: the tension between wanting to hang on to the light but at the same time welcoming the darkness. Fading light, shadows, absence of light, twilight, darkness, losing sight, transformative."
Hmm. I'm not sure I take very many photos that AREN'T about fading light. And certainly at this time of year that's a pretty consistent theme. What intrigues me is the link the presenters of the contest draw between shadows, twilight, losing sight and transformation.
By now I think we mostly understand -- intellectually, at least -- that a step into darkness, however painful, will ultimately become a step into light. After all, the sun rises every morning, and spring always returns; right?
But yesterday a friend mentioned that what he feared most was to become increasingly disabled -- losing sight, hearing, and mobility -- with no way to afford either medical care or caregivers. And yes -- as age creeps up on me and those whom I love, it becomes increasingly clear that challenges like the ones my friend describes may well be lurking ahead. Old age -- as the poster in my pilates classroom reads -- is not for sissies.
And of course, the root of that concern is that, actually, there WILL come a time when spring does not return, and the sun will not rise -- for us, anyway. We tend to see death, from our limited perspective here on earth, as the ultimate darkness.
Somehow I suspect that may not be true; that there may actually be another, stronger light, that falls upon us when the lesser light of days and seasons fades, a transformation more complete than any we undergo in response to the darknesses we encounter here.
But that's only a guess; we can't really know. And to live our lives worrying about whether or not that's true; to divide our communities over disagreements about what that future might look like seems to be the ultimate exercise in futility. Yes, it's good to be conscious that life can change completely in an instant; that it may not always take the form it's taking at this moment in time. But to spend so much time worrying about that that we neglect what life and light lie waiting for us here and now, in this moment...
Nope. Just don't want to go there. Better to understand that we live -- always -- in fading light, laced with shadows and the possibility of transformation to come. Better to rejoice in the light that is, to breathe in the shadows when they arise, and to trust the light will always triumph in the end.