Evening the Evening: A Practice For Winter’s Darkness

Have you ever been in a desolate area, on a cloudless night, enveloped by darkness and look skyward at the vast expanse of stars? Darkness is a contrast to light. Despite it being counterintuitive, darkness is an illuminating highlighter in the same way that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The Book of Radiance, Zohar (1:51a), highlights that even within a flame there is contrasting bright and dark light:

Come and See: In a flame ascending are two lights: one, a white light, radiant; the other, a light tinged with black and blue. The white light is above, ascending unswervingly, while beneath it is the blue-black light, a throne for the white, which rests upon it, each embracing the other, becoming one. The blue-black light consumes anything cleaving below, while that white light hovering over it never devours or consumes, nor does its light waver. Above the white light hovers a concealed light, encompassing it. Here abides the supernal mystery. You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest.

Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael found a way to bring together the homonyms evening (balancing) and evening (day ending) in her version of a traditional prayer:

Sacred words even the evenings
Wisdom opens gates locked around our hearts
Evening the evenings
Evening the frayed edges of our lives.

Our light often rests on the shoulders (and crevices) of our darkness—the moments when we begin to see those frayed edges of our lives and “even” them out through a full acknowledgment of our own darkness.

The evening is a time to reflect on the uneven aspects of our perceptions of dark and light—our reactivity to deny or disengage from the dark and be “blinded by the dark.”

A practice for the dark evenings of winter:
Light a candle and gaze at the flame (in as dark of a room as possible) and let the reflection and refraction of the light enter the darkness of your eye. Become a pupil of the light that comes from the radiance of the blackness—the harmony of dark and light.

1 Comment

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · November 24, 2018 at 9:32 am

I found there quotes by Rabbi Menachem and wanted to share them as they are so enlightening.
Mendel of Kotzk, fully Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, known as the Kotzker Rebbe
Polish Hasidic Rabbi and Leader, Talmudic Scholar and Kabbalist
Author Quotes
Once when there were cold mikvahs there were warm Jews, now there are warm mikvahs and cold Jews.

Question: Where is God to be found? Answer: Wherever we let God in.
Everything must be done Lesheim Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven), even [actions done] Lesheim Shamayim.

Man must “guard himself and his uniqueness, and not imitate his fellow … for initially man was created in his own image’, and only afterwards in the image of God.

Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results
from any threat or danger.
But intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us,
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.

Our only way out is to learn
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simple because that ‘other’ exists.

Be holy in a human way; be holy while dealing with the temptations of normal people. G-d already has enough angels.

He who thinks he is finished is finished.

“Some day I will do it” — is self-deceptive. “I want to do it” — is weak. “I am doing it” — that is the right way.

There are few things as straight as a crooked ladder. There are few things as crooked as the straight face of a con-artist. There is nothing blacker than the white garments in which a corpse is dressed. And there is nothing more complete then a broken heart.

There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.

People are accustomed to look at the heavens and to wonder what happens there. It would be better if they would look within themselves, to see what happens there.

All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, and all that is published should not be read.

First, a man is created in his own image, and only afterwards in the image of God.

God is only where you let Him in.
If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!
When a man makes a reverent face before a face that is no face — that is idol worship!

Do not be satisfied with the speech of your lips and the thought in your heart, all the promises and good sayings in your mouth, and all the good thoughts in your heart; rather you must arise and do!

Everything in the world can be imitated, except truth, for truth that is imitated is no longer truth.

Fear not death. It is just a matter of going from one room to another, ultimately to the most beautiful room.

Peace without truth is a false peace.

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