As you all can probably tell from one of my previous posts, I am often inspired by the music I listen to. Yesterday, I was listening to a song by A-Ha (yes, those guys from that one video in the 80s – let me tell you, they’ve done loads of albums since, and just about all of them are great!) and one of the lines, which is also the title of the song, says: “Dark is the night for all.”
I have listened to this song hundreds of times, but for some reason, this time that line really stuck out to me in a new way. It made me start thinking about how universal day and night, light and dark are. In the literal sense, the night is dark for everyone on the planet. And that darkness has had a psychological and cultural impact on every race on the planet.
The fear often associated with darkness and night is so ingrained into the collective unconscious that we, the Human Race, have exhausted countless of man-hours battling the darkness. First with fire, then with electricity, we have created a method for extending our days past nightfall, for carving out a small circle of light to protect us against the encroaching dark. Why? Because we are afraid of what might be hiding in the darkness.
This then got me thinking about the cultural impact night and darkness has had on humankind. How many stories, how many movies, how many cultural myths have revolved around the dangers of darkness, the “things that go bump in the night?” Fear. It is primal and often irrational, but it drives every species on the planet to one degree or another. It is a symptom of the self-preservation drive.
And it is great fodder for a writer.
Yes, I am aware that that is a bit exploitative. But come on, let’s face it: the stories that stick with us, the ones that we get such a thrill from are the ones that scare us. And not much is scarier than the unknown, which is what the darkness truly represents for us. Psychologists often say that we (humans) create stories to help us learn how to cope with the world and the life we are given. It is a way to feel like we have some control over what frightens us.
But let me tell you: control is an illusion. Dark is the night for all is true in the literal sense. But it is not true in the spiritual sense. Those who live in the grace of God’s goodness know that the night is not dark for God, and therefore, will not need to be dark for them. Of course, I’m using the word night here metaphorically. But the point still stands that God’s light is so much more powerful than any darkness and any night the enemy might throw at us (and throw he will). We just have to realize that we don’t have the control here and we need to relinquish any attempts at control to God. He’s got this. Don’t worry. Or, to quote my dad’s life mantra, “It’ll be all right.”
The night may be dark, but God’s light can dispel any and every darkness. And that, too, is important to remember when writing. You can’t put your characters in the dark without any hope of finding a light. Literally and figuratively, a character with no light will never find his way out of the dark, and then what would be the point of his story?
The reader will never trust you again if you put them in the dark with your character and leave them there without any exorcism of fear, without any cathartic grappling with and overcoming of the primal fears we all have inside us. It is the duty of the writer, when tackling fearful subject matter, to provide an answer, a solution, a weapon against the fear presented to the reader. And the best way to combat darkness is with light.
For Christian writers, finding light in the darkness is easy. Introducing that light into a story meant for a secular audience is delicate, but it can be done, with God’s grace. We must shed light on the lies the enemy tells us and the snares he sets for us in the darkness. We must walk in the light, and let our characters and readers find their way to join us there.
Psalm 139 NIV – For the director of music. Of David. A – Bible Gateway// // // //
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
“Dark is the night for all” appears on the album Memorial Beach. Copyright 2005 A-Ha/Warner Strategic Marketing