“God called the light Day, and the Darkness God called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1.5)
So, if I’m hearing this right, light has a name: Day. Darkness too–Night. And because the next sentence follows so closely, we assume evening and morning are “middle names” and voila–we have time. While I am not a Hebrew scholar by any stretch of the imagination, I know enough to know that it is much more complicated than that. But I’m just a poor theologian, with a little bit of Hebrew, a little bit of Latin, and a little bit of Greek…just like Shakespeare was no Ben Jonson, I am no Moses. But I am intrigued by verse 5 here.
Why does God name “light” and “darkness?” What about those two states of being, those two ways of living, urges God to give them names? We’re four verses into the Bible and God’s already naming stuff. Was God worried that some other creator, maybe Marduk in the next galaxy over, was going to claim them with some funky names, and God was like No! These are mine! Stay away! I named them!
As a story, it’s always risky to infer deep philosophical or religious truths from a grandmother trying to explain to her granddaughter why we call it “night?” But still, we have these two names…And do we treat Night and Day like proper nouns, or do we just brush them off as generic descriptions of astral luminosity? What if Day and Night want to be treated with the respect due proper nouns as realities that have their own names?
What if Ms. Day desires to be in relationship with you for more than just providing you with a chance to make some money or do yardwork? What if Mr. Night wishes you to honor and respect him for more than a chance to view the universe or free vampyres to roam? What if Night and Day are not demarcations of time, but rather realities that demand we pay attention to them?
Maybe spending a Day fishing is not wasted, even if your boss finds its unproductive?
Maybe using the Night to make love is what Night likes best? Or, as Jimmy Witherspoon used to say, make love “in the wee hours of the morning,” where Night and Day seem to pass each other in a shadowy fog, and both are appreciated for their offerings?
What if we actually paid attention to what Night brings to us? What Day brings to us? What if we lived with the gifts we receive from Night and Day, not as expectations of drudgery, but rather as benefices of grace?
It seems to me that if we are to talk intelligently about God, humanity, and the environment we should spend some time listening first. What sounds does the Day bring that Night does not? How is the world we see different when presented by Night rather than Day? Are we biased toward one or the other, perhaps because we are too focused on the wrong things? Maybe what we really fear is light and darkness, and we blame Day and Night for their complicity?
All I know is that when I sit in my backyard during the reign of Day it is different when under Night’s watch. During the Night, my backyard seems almost magical, almost like a place anyone would want to be…unless–of course, you’re afraid of the dark, and the creatures who aren’t. Then, I suppose, my backyard is terrifying…but that is hardly Night’s fault.
May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.