Light out of darkness

For Christmas, I gave my mother a flameless candle, about 8 inches high, made of real wax with images of cardinals around the outside.  The candle has a timer mode so that if you turn on the candle at 5 p.m., it will shut itself off at 10 p.m., and turn on again at 5  p.m.  every day when it is left in the timer mode.  It has a flickering light, like a real candle, and is really quite pretty, and also quite safe.

I could picture this lovely candle coming on every day just as it was becoming dark outside, and bringing comfort to her.  Because she wouldn’t have to do anything herself to turn the candle on, it would almost be as though someone were there with her bringing light and cheer to her little apartment.

I remember a red Christmas bulb in a candle in a cellophane wreath that hung in our dining room window when I was in high school.  This was before outdoor Christmas lighting could be seen everywhere, and I can recall the warm feeling this little red light bulb in the window gave  me when I drove up to our house at night.

It is amazing what a little light can do!  A symbol of hope and insight, light will always overcome darkness and illuminate our way.  Morning always follows night and will continue to do so as long as we live on this earth.

Darkness symbolizes uncertainty, questions, inability to see; maybe even groping, stumbling, trying to find our way.  It usually has negative connotations, and we tend to avoid and even fear darkness.

However, research is beginning to show that, in our physical lives, not only does darkness have a purpose,  it is vital to our health. Hyla Cass, M.D. says: “Not getting enough darkness can be harmful to our health.  The absence of light stimulates the production of a hormone, melatonin, from its immediate precursor, the neurotransmitter, serotonin.  Like serotonin, melatonin plays important roles in our physical and mental well-being.”

Of our modern day tendency to continue working, doing chores, watching T.V., etc. far into the night, she says, “Our poor biological clocks get thrown out of wack by all this.  In a very real sense, we are fooling Mother Nature, and, as everyone knows, that’s not nice.  It’s also unhealthy.  The most obvious casualty is adequate and restful sleep.  With our busy, fast-paced lifestyles and deficient levels of melatonin in our systems during the night, we sleep poorly and not enough.  The result is a population that is chronically and dangerously sleep-deprived, with consequent fatigue, irritability, depression, impaired reflexes, and susceptibility to accidents, just to name a few.”

Getting adequate sleep will also help you remember and process things better.  When you are sleeping, your brain is still active processing your day, taking the events of the day, input from your senses, and your feelings and making connections between them.

While you are asleep, your cells produce more protein molecules which form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.  Your mind and body are actually rejuvenated by the hormone melatonin and quality sleep.

Dr. Natasha Turner, M.D., author of The Hormone Diet, says: “When light hits your skin, it disrupts the production of melatonin.  Studies have shown that even a small amount of light anywhere on your skin can cause a decrease in melatonin levels which affects sleep, interferes with weight loss, and may raise your cancer risks.”

All kinds of wonderful things are going on in the darkness – the darker, the better.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I have a tendency to take things from the physical world and relate them to the spiritual world.  I don’t try – it just happens.  In fact, I would have to try not to do this.  I’m sure this can be annoying sometimes, but just bear with me.

Melatonin, because it promotes restful and REM sleep, causes us to have more frequent and longer dreams and makes it easier for us to remember our dreams.  This dark period when all this processing is taking place is very good for us.  Could those dark periods in our lives when we feel like we can’t see even an inch in front of us, actually have a purpose?  Could they actually be good for us?  Would the dawn even be possible if we didn’t go through this processing time?

All the things I have read about melatonin say that it helps us to get a restful sleep.  What are we doing when we feel like we are in some kind of darkness of the soul?  Are we resisting, struggling, trying to work our way out of it?  Would that benefit our physical sleep if we tried to avoid the darkness and struggle against it?  On the contrary, none of the good stuff could take place.

When I think of darkness of the soul, I think of a time when we aren’t sure what direction to take, we can’t see the way clearly, we need direction and guidance and answers.  Let this be a time for your dreams to take shape, longer and more frequent dreams, dreams that the restful time helps you remember better.  Rest. . .

I love mornings.  I love dawn.  It is my favorite time of the day.  I am at my best in the early mornings.  I can think the best, write the best, and accomplish the most. I also love those times when I have a sudden flash of insight, when light seems to come out of nowhere to light my way.    I am going to try not to resist the dark times in my life though, the times when things don’t flow so easily and I am not sure what to do next. These dark times and places are the “nowhere” that the light will eventually come out of.   I am going to try to rest in these times and benefit from them because I think there are all kinds of good things going on under the surface that I can’t see. . . yet.

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