“When the sun was setting, a deep sleep overcame Abram, and a horror (a terror, a shuddering fear) of great darkness assailed and oppressed him.
When the sun had gone down and a [thick] darkness had come on, behold, a smoking oven and a flaming torch passed between those pieces.
On the same day the Lord made a covenant (promise, pledge) with Abram . . .” Gen 15)
It was night. Abram had a direct encounter with the Lord God in the darkness of the night that oppressed him. It was dark. Darkness implies that there will be a new day, a new beginning.
John Dear, in his weekly column, told me about a wonderful new book by Virgil Elizondo, Gaudalupe: Mother of the New Creation. This is a book about the meaning of the appearance of Mary on the hill of Tepeyac to Juan Diego. Juan, a native, was among the lowly, downtrodden, oppressed and the ignored; however, the Virgin gave him a sign and the non-native bishop built a shrine on the hill.
The legend begins with “it was Saturday, when it was still night . . .” The night of darkness and desolation. The Nahuatl people had been conquered by the conquistadors who proceeded to destroy their culture and take away their religious practices. It was night indeed. The next thing we read it that, when Juan reached Tepeyac “it was already beginning to dawn.” A new day, a new era was dawning because the Virgin of Guadalupe would restore the dignity and the honor of a “lowly” people who had been conquered and oppressed. Mary emerges as the New Mother—a symbol of new life and new meaning for Juan and his people.
The photograph of Ponce de Leon from the Art of Sand festival depicts the conquest of the Americas and the destruction of the native peoples. Note the crucifix on the ship’s sail—people were destroyed in the name of Christ; however, the Virgin, the Mother Goddess, brought the people a new day, new light, a new day, and new hope.
It was night when God made the covenant with Abraham. It was night when Mary made a new covenant with the people of the Americas. Night brings a new dawn, a new light, a new life.
The lyrics of “Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera say it all:
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
(Helpless to resist the notes I write)
(For I compose the music of the night)
Slowly, gently, night unfurls it’s splendour
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night
Close you eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before
Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it, secretly posess you
Open up your mind,
Let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night
Let your mind start a journey through a strange, new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be!
Only then can you belong to me
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savour each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night.
Make the music of the night. Meditate on the words of scripture, the words of the Virgin and the words of the Phantom. Create a new day, a new dawning, a new awareness of the uplifting power of the Divine. Let darkness and despair give in. Start a new journey. Enter into the darkness and silence of the night and be with God.