A Contemplation “Between the Light and the Dark.”
by Rev. Malcolm Allsop
One of the key pictures of the Passiontide Gospel Readings is that of Luke 11 and the few short verses there, referring to the candlelight under the bushel, the relationship between the light and the dark, without and within the human soul. It is often said, the brighter the light, the stronger the shadow which it casts, and again this applies similarly to external as to inner, soul conditions.
How many highly gifted people – be it artists, scientists, inspirational personalities – seem to carry within themselves a shadow side as well, where they suffer under their relationship to their surroundings, also to themselves. At the moment in Johannesburg a theatre production is running on the life of Vaslav Nijinsky, the Polish-Ukranian dancer. It is based on extracts from his diaries and follows his developing breakdown as he wrestles with his exceptional talent and uniqueness, that were there from an early age. Little by little the shadow in his soul grows and is diagnosed with the limited understanding of the early 20th Century. By the age of 27 his career came to a tragic end, torn between the light and dark of his soul-life. Did his brilliance ‘get the better of him’, rather than remaining as a light placed firmly on a stool, firmly grounded to shine out and illumine the world of contemporary dance? Was he, as in other examples, ahead of his time, adding to the darkness and sense of isolation that grew within him?
It is as if Christ tackled this polemic head-on during his three years on earth, from the Temptation onward – could one say that just this was the Passion of Christ, which reaches its climax in his final months? Fielding the attacks from both sides, and trying to unite spirit-radiance with incarnation in earth-matter, the light of the world. How well He must have known, with every fibre of his being, the immensity of the task, but equally the import of that task. And how little time there was…left. Yet, as an example to us all, He was able to look from a higher vantage point and in his final hours (still) say to his Disciples:
“I stand at peace with the world.” His mission was almost accomplished; the fusion of light and dark, a balancing act for the human soul, for which He is the forerunner.