The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
There I was, knelt on my knees, trying desperately to clean the black stain that was slowly embedding itself of the floor. It had happened in a moment, the flinch of my hand. With a quill in one hand the other had caught the bottle of ink balanced at the edge of the notebook. It had fallen, knocked sideways and black colour had flooded from within. And whilst, initially, my thoughts focussed upon how I would clean this mess away, my mind digressed, travelled away and I found myself thinking of this image of this dark solution overcoming the pale colour of the carpet and oddly, what it could symbolise. Yes, I know, that’s all very philosophical and meaningful for a little bit of spilt ink, but I had caught myself on an important symbol.
I saw the darkness of the ink as the force which darkness so often represents, the force of evil. And a saw the paler, more innocent colour of my carpet as a representation of light, of goodness. In my efforts to wash away the ink I found that, following this symbol, I was doing all that I could to stop the darkness from overcoming the light, to stop evil from overcoming good. And of course, two important quotations then snuck into my thoughts, and I wonder where they might have come from…
Yes, one is from Harry Potter, and I hope that this will spark memories in those of you who have read these wonderful books…
It is important to fight and fight again and keep on fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay. – Albus Dumbledore
This quote may not be as well known as some of Dumbledore’s other most inspiring and loved sayings, and yet I believe it holds a great deal of meaning and an a very important message. We all face evil in our lives, however big or small, in whatever shape or form. We are faced with the evil acts of the world, with the pains that are inflicted upon us and with the struggles we face within ourselves. I think that J.K. Rowling understands this as well as any. Whilst Dumbledore prepares Harry for the trouble ahead, J.K. Rowling urges us not to give up the struggle, to fight for the light, for good, for happiness in the middle of darkness, pain and evil.
And, unsurprisingly, the other line that appeared in my mind was a verse from The Bible, from the book of Romans to be specific…
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21
Here, Paul, an apostle, is writing to a church in Rome. He is urging them not to let themselves be defeated by the resistance and forces of evil that, spiritually, surround them. And yet the meaning goes deeper than this. I believe that what is written in The Bible is not there by chance, I believe that the words of The Bible are ‘God-breathed’, that God is speaking to us, here, today, through the words written in context two thousand years ago. And I believe that this verse brings a very important message. We battle evil every day. Every day I fight against sins that have hidden themselves in my life, against jealousy, pride, selfishness. We are faced too with our own minds, our negative thoughts, our anxieties.
And yet Paul teaches us, God teaches us, to overcome this evil with good, to fight for what is good, pure and true. And alone I find this very hard, just as alone, and without his friends, Harry may have been overcome by the forces that sought to destroy him. And yet I am not alone, God is with me, and I believe, I know, that the light that God has given me is strong enough to fight against the darkness that I face, that we all face.
And, of course, I couldn’t rest with only having thought upon this symbol, I had to write a poem too. So whilst I don’t think that the poem above demontrates the greatest talent, I think the symbol that runs throughout is very significant. I have based this poem around the verse with which I began this rambling post and which is adapted into the last three lines: ‘the light shines in the darkness and that darkness has not overcome it’. I feel this symbol to be very important to my life. I think that I know what it feels like to be in darkness, and I think that many of you may do too. And yet I am blessed to know what it feels like to be in the light of God, to know that He has reached out His hand and has given a greater meaning to my life, to know that this has always been His plan.
The structure of this poem, I have taken from a hymn, a hymn that we often sang in the assemblies of the Church of England secondary school that I attended.
You came from heaven to earth to show the way
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high
I found secondary school very hard. Looking back I see my time at secondary school as though I am looking through I dark lens. I place no blame on the school, but I am a lot happier now than I was then. This song sticks out in my memories as a little light in the midst of darkness and has reminded me of how God’s light has always been coming into my life, how He has been guiding me towards Him, how he has given me hope.
I am called, loved and kept in God. He is the light that shines through the darkness, through the struggles I face every day and through the unending troubles that this world must fight against too. He called me at a time when I felt to be struggling and He has shown me His love and he has kept me in His light. He has given me hope, so that, to put it poetically, I can never be lost in darkness.
And yet again, we find ourselves in the world of Harry Potter. I wanted to end this very prolonged thought with the same image that I have given to the title: the patronus light.
Finding light in darkness requires the same strength needed to cast a patronus, a force of happiness, against the forces of despair and hopelessness that the dementors embody. We must hold onto the what is good against forces of evil, we must hold onto what light we have in times of darkness. And yet God gives us the greatest and strongest form of light, a firmer hope than any I have known, and he gives this to us freely, just as Jesus freely gave his life for us so that we may be saved from sin, saved from the darkness that surrounds us. The light of heaven is the greatest light I know, the greatest light there is.
And just as Harry is guided by the mysterious silver doe, I believe that if we truly for it look we will find a hope, a light a forced that will guide us. And, and just as Harry discovers who cast the doe patronus, we will discover the place from which this light comes, we will find this light in God.
To cast a patronus, one must speak the incantation ‘expecto patronum’. Translated from Latin, this reads ‘I await a guardian’. As Harry need only utter this incantation, so we need only ask for this light to come into our lives. So will you stand by me in casting a patronus? Will you stand by in asking for a guardian, for the hope that can be given by God?