Light in the Darkness

El Greco's Savior

“Savior of the World”

El Greco ( 1541 – 1614)

A dark December day;

dark outside my winter window;

dark inside our too-still house;

dark through all the muscles

of my body, of my mind.

Bombs and missiles frighten

angels in the skies, and bullets shatter

trust across our neighborhoods and schools.

Darkness surrounds and swallows up—almost,

the candles of this waiting Advent time.

*

I turn to the icon* silent in my hands:

El Greco’s “Savior of the World.”

More darkness there:

     of eye,

          of eyebrows,

               of hair, of beard.

And framing all the Christ, a shroud of midnight black:

     threatening,

          brooding,

               dense.

*

I want to turn away, to find a brighter Christ,

the baby Christ of promised peace, the One

to bind and blind the darkness all around.

And then I see.

Behind the darkness, through the darkness, into the darkness,

a strangely halo-ed square of light

shines round the Savior’s face;

shines through his penetrating eyes;

shines onto his blood-red tunic;

shines across his hands, atop his blue-royal robe;

shines un-dimmed by the darkness;

shines in quiet confidence;

shines toward that time when darkness

will be no more.

For now, it is still dark around me.

For now, it is still dark within me.

But as I look into those tender, sorrowful eyes,

a little of that halo-ed light shines hopeful

into me; for now, that is

enough.

*****

*I know. El Greco’s “Savior of the World” is not “officially” an icon, but for me it has become one—even without the sanction of a higher authority.

4 thoughts on “Light in the Darkness

  1. How is it possible that a poem about darkness is so enlightening? Thank you. I needed to read this today. I remember reading a poem called, “First Light” that compared the coming of Jesus to early morning and ends with this line [I have NO idea why I remember this:] “I too am silent in the widening light.” Precisely my response to your poem.

  2. Silence seems so appropriate a response to this light which shines obliquely and mysteriously in and through our lives. Silence seems appropriate, too, as we look into the tender, sorrowful eyes of the Light-Bearer.

  3. Good morning, Carol, We’ve been reading your post and so appreciative of what you have written. Is this note appearing on the slow lane blog? We have good memories of our days together at Third Church. Milly TenBrink >

  4. What a lovely gift to hear from you, Milly! Yes, so many good memories of our Third Church years, and of VanRaalte school days as well. Such a rich, nourishing time for which I continue to be deeply grateful. Greetings to all in your family. .

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