Monday, April 6, 2015


Light and Darkness

By Gail Kittleson

Excerpt from Catching Up With Daylight

           Sometimes I wonder about the shift from night to day. What exactly defines the difference between night and morning, darkness and light? The Apostle John encourages us to claim our status as God’s children and keep out of the shadows.
          Lectio Divina, an ancient Benedictine form of meditation, invites us deep into the word “light.” From the first chapter of John’s Gospel, what one word draws my attention today? After several readings, I wait. The word is light. What does the writer mean by light, and what action would God have me take concerning light?
          First, the context: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of the world.” (NIV) I didn’t get very far . . . four verses. That’s okay. Gone are the days of complicated, application-oriented Bible studies that tackled a whole chapter or more at a time in verse-by-verse analysis. Today I ruminate about light, and that’s enough.
          Jesus’ life was the light of the world. How did that light affect His world? Not always met with gratitude and approval, He knew some would attempt to snuff out the flame, and temporarily succeed. Yet that light has pervaded throughout the ages, down to this time in history. It’s the same light that beckoned us when we first heard the Good News. Joy behooves us to remember that first light.
Sometimes darkness closes in on even God’s most devout followers, as it did on our Lord. Saint John of the Cross, along with countless other ancient believers, experienced this. Saint John’s sole goal . . . to love God . . . seemingly led him away from the light. We can relate to his statement: “Desolation is a file, and the endurance of great darkness is preparation for great light.”
When it seems our Savior’s life-giving rays flee the scene of our everyday life, we suffer a tangible sense of loss that sneaks up subtly, silently, like a snake winding its way into a camper’s bedroll. Suddenly we find ourselves deep in shadow country, enveloped by a penetrating chill. Where has the light gone? What has happened to our relationship with God?
Walking in the early mornings reveals gradations in atmospheric light. As a temperature change occurs with the sun’s disappearance at day’s end, so dawn’s light streaks from the east in a vast beam, drastically changing our perceptions. Still, the precise moment when darkness becomes light escapes an astute observer. With little ado, morning comes, and with it warmth and a new day.
The atmosphere gives clues, and meteorologists work to isolate sunrise and sunset, offering precise information in their weather broadcasts. “August 27th, sunrise at 5:21, sunset at 8:36.”
Spiritually, I’ve attempted the same sort of analysis. But sometimes life moves so fast, it becomes difficult to pinpoint the appearance of light or stall the coming of darkness.

Perhaps analysis sits less well with our spiritual journeys than with meteorologists’ goals. In certain seasons of life, recollected light may be enough, and we simply need to keep walking.

© by Gail Kittleson, WhiteFire Publishing, Nov. 2013 

Meet the author!

Gail Kittleson.  Sometimes we learn what we've done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir
Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term "spirituality writing" only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn't the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. I live with my very patient husband in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will be released sometime in 2015.



Catching Up With Daylight invites readers into contemporary and historical women's lives, interweaving the author's own story, biblical insights and encouragement from the ancient mystics. Kittleson shares a simple Benedictine meditation process called Lectio Divina that revolutionized her prayer life. Why shouldn't Protestants use this tried-and-true method, too? This memoir is set in small-town Iowa after her husband's second deployment and during the renovation of a really old house. Its everyday anecdotes can be read sequentially or used as a "bathroom reader" to cheer the mundane hours of an ordinary day. 

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