Tuesday, October 15, 2013

30 Days of Halloween - Day 14: The Nocturnal Turn

You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.

-Psalm 104:20

I walk in the dark.

Especially as the days shorten and the nights lengthen in these northern latitudes.  The Scots say 'Aye, the nights are fair drawing in' to describe the phenomenon.

I step out of the electric light of the university library interior, out into the gloaming, and I walk a dusky half hour to the train station.  As I've pondered a 'theology of darkness' over the past year, my experiences of night-walking have turned conscious and intentional.  I embrace the night over and around me, its shades of deep blue-black and maroon.  The skies are like a dark wine, opaque until lit faintly lambent by the uprising gleam of street lamps and tenement building lights and glowing signage and flaming restaurant windows.

I walk through unlit Kelvingrove Park and its shrubbery and trees are all black monstrous shapes heaped and quivering at the edge of vision.  Some streets are mostly in poorly lit murk and I feel I am a Haunter of the Dark (to borrow Lovecraft's phrase).  When you walk long enough in the night, you become a part of it.  I am becoming a shadow man, a creature of the night and of night's lights.

We all have taken this walk on Halloween night, revelling in the darkness that so readily and aptly cloaks the hideous forms we have adopted for the night, relishing the burning flames in jack-o-lanterns, fleeing to neighbourly porch lights when we are frightened.

I think it is healthy to walk in the dark sometimes.  The night is a realm of glory just as the day is and there are revelations there as well - if we feel for them in the dark.

Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold - The Falling Rocket, 1874

Whistler, Nocturne in Gray and Gold, Westminster Bridge, 1871-1874