Christmas has been a time of both light and dark to me. A time of contrasts. A time of pain and a time of joy. In fact, it almost seemed, to me, that light and dark merged into one until I did not know which was which. In a sense, Christmas has been more of a wilderness time than any other. It has been my first Christmas as a blind person, and the conteasts have seemed great to me. But the poem below is what came out of this experience, for to God, lught and dark are one and the same thing.

The same again
There is a line we draw
One side is light, the other dark,
Both hold
Us tight
Until one becomes the other
There is no difference
Both are the same
To God

Darkness glows. I cannot explain it. It just is. I cannot argue it. I just know it. Whilst everyone is seeking light desperately asking for prayers to be answered, and questioning why God does not answer them – are usually asking for a change in their circumstances, I am content with the darkness. I find God, and the darkness glows with light. In the darkness I am stripped of all that does not matter. In the darkness I find the greatest light I have ever known. In this, I must not fear. The present is what I have got and the present is alive with life and glowing with light. I meet people all the time who are dissatisfied and who are seeking something different. People without peace. Even Christians. They will not find peace until they seek the Cross. Until they realise that God’s peace is not of this world – not to do with the things of this world. The key to making the darkness glow is to embrace it. To let it embrace YOU. In the darkness you are sanctified. In the darkness you find detachment. In the darkness you find peace. Not without pain and struggle. But you find it. Your wrestling is because you want to hang onto the things of this world. Your wrestling is because you forget – because you are seduced by the desires and the values of THIS world. Because you forget that we are set apart. The minute I forget that, I flounder. The minute I try to get out of my darkness, I lose my light. And I sink


Christmas is a time that we associate light. Everyone loves the lights at Christmas. But for many, Christmas is a very dark time. Sometimes it is very difficult to assimilate these two paradoxical things. We talk about Jesus, the one who was born in a stable bringing light to the world, and the whole thrust of the Christian faith that was born in a humble and dirty stable on Christmas Day, is towards the light. It almost seems that if we are in darkness there is something wrong. And yet, in this life, we encounter and experience many darknesses. To hear some people talk it is as if there is something wrong here and that our lives should be all that light. But this just is not so. We are all in our different darknesses reach for the light and this is quite understandable. No one likes suffering and pain. I myself have gone through much suffering and pain, some of it physical, some of it emotional and some of it spiritual. But over the past weeks I have come to understand that the darkness is my friend and that it is glowing with a light all of its own. This is something that is very hard to explain or even to describe, but all that I can say is that the darkness has put its arms around me and comforted and sheltered me. Thus in my aloneness and solitude, the darkness became my friend. In a very strange way the darkness glows with light, but light of a very different kind to that which we are accustomed to seeking.

We have to remember that the One Who brought Christmas to us did not luva life of luxury, that He did not have a home for much of His life, and that He ended His life on a Cross. The Bringer of Light ended His life in darkness, as darkness covered the whole land at the time of His death. Yet, for His followers, this very event was full of light, ultimately.

This time of the year is full of paradoxes, and if we find ourselves at this festive season, in deep darkness, we need not feel guilty or ashamed or feel that we are somehow freaks, or odd.


Yesterday I was talking to one of my friends about suffering. There is no way in this world that we can avoid suffering. It comes to us all. For me, it has come in many forms throughout my life. My family was messy and there was violence within it. We constantly moved around, such that we were never in one place for more than three to six months. Thus, I never learned how to make lasting friendships. My schooling was interrupted. The effect of the violence upon me was immeasurable. I constantly expected to find one of my parents dead on the floor. Yet we had to present ourselves as a respectable, intelligent family. I had to speak correctly. Be dressed correctly. The picture that the world saw was not the real picture. Everything was done in secrecy and I had to keep the awful secret. Often my heart ached and felt so heavy and black that I did not know how I could continue to contain it. But the picture had to be kept up.

If life was not good for me as a child it was even worse as a teenager. The result was that I could not wait to get away from home. By the age of 21 I was married and things did not go brilliantly for much of the time. Then at the age of 27 I was discovered to have advanced tuberculosis. After three months in hospital on complete bed rest and barrier nursed I returned home cured, but in order to keep the tuberculosis at bay I had to be on injections and drugs for 18 months.

The worst time for me however was when it was discovered that I had and advanced blood cancer and that it had spread all over my body. Many of the tumours were massive and it was not known whether I could be cured. The expectation seemed to be that there was a grave risk of my dying.

I survived despite everything but as has already been said elsewhere on this website, I have been left blind and in a wheelchair with no feeling in my hands or feet.

There have been many other things in my life that have caused intense suffering. I have found my own way through these things but I am convinced that the only way to deal with suffering is to face it head on and not attempt to deny its existence. For many of my friends,  the approach is the opposite. They wanted to hear nothing of the word suffering. Not that they have  never suffered but it is as If they want to live their lives in a protected bubble.

For me the only thing that makes sense is the Cross. The only thing that gives peace is the Cross. I do not have to be or do anything at the foot of the Cross. We are now approaching Christmas and in the midst of Christmas the only thing that gives me peace is the Cross. The one who was born in a stable and not a palace was to die a cruel death on a Cross, as a common criminal.

If you don’t go with the Cross you go with the world and what the world is doing. In the Cross you have to be another way. If you don’t go with the Cross you are in denial about the reality of suffering. But it IS something. It is real.

I cannot just be with the light of Christmas. I HAVE to hold the Cross in front of me all through Christmas. The Cross is just as much part of our lives as is the stable. And following the stable was the desert and the flight into Egypt and the slaughter of the innocents. The salughter of inncoent children and adults goes on today, and will continue to do so throughout the Christmas period. People will be dying. People will be suffering. And that child born in a stable was headed for a Cross. And that is why, this Christmas, I will be holding a crucifix in my hand.


Even in the desert places there is light.


I see things in my memory’s eye
Like the birds that I hear singing,
For now I can only see shapes,
Colours merge into each other,
I see so clearly in my memory,
The birds that brought me life.

This dark world now is my life.
But the dark is only in my eye,
Light shines, in my memory,
My heart within is singing,
I can say no other,
Pure light, my life shapes.

In my time I have seen so many shapes,
Some good, some bad, that determined my life,
Sometimes one, sometimes the other,
On the good I tried to focus my eye,
So that my heart could keep singing,
All these things live on in my memory.

I live now in my memory,
Things take on so many shapes,
Never can I stop singing,
Whatever happens in my life,
I see now with more than my eye,
Not with anything other.

There are so many things but nothing other
Than the light of God lives on in my memory,
It shines not only in my eye,
But into my depths, my life it shapes,
Such light brings to me eternal life,
Everything in me is singing.

Sometimes I hear the angels singing,
Louder than any other,
Bringing to birth in me new life,
That doesn’t live just in my memory,
This for me eternity shapes,
In my spirit, my only eye.
I am not reliant on my eye but on something other,
To keep me singing but not in my memory,
Something greater my future shapes, giving me eternal life.



Even in the wilderness, with the hard stones  for your pillow and the earth your bed,  whatever the hardships are you can still look up to the sky and see the stars. This poem reflects that and I hope that it encourages and helps you.

Shine the stars, gems
In the darkened night sky
Giving their message that darkness
Is pierced
By light
Look for the jewels in the sky
Proclaiming His glory
Light eternal
Holds you


I walked down the narrow, stony lane,
Holding onto Grandma’s hand,
Looking into the vast night sky,
All I could see was stars,
Tiny jewels lighting up the dark,
The lane was full of potholes.

Grandma was fretting about the potholes,
They seemed to fill the lane,
Hiding from us in the dark,
Grandma gripped my hand,
But I fixed my eyes on the stars,
Talking to me from the sky.

I gazed in wonder at the sky,
Not caring about the potholes,
Why look at potholes when I could see stars
While walking with milk checks down the lane?
I knew I was held by Grandma’s hand,
I didn’t need to fear the dark.

For a child it’s never dark,
While there are stars in the sky,
I needn’t fear the potholes,
I was held firmly by some great hand,
Soon we’d be at the end of the lane,
But I’d never lose the stars.

Grandma could name for me all the stars,
Twinkling cheerily in the dark,
This was the mystery of the lane,
And the tiny winking lights in the sky,
What did a child care about potholes,
Guided down the lane by Grandma’s hand?

Through my life I’ve been held by a loving hand,
Always I could see stars,
Though my road was filled with many potholes,
And often my way was dark,
I remembered the wonder of the night sky,
Walking with Grandma down the lane.

Along a dark lane there are always stars,
And a hand to hold us in the dark,
Always looking up to the sky, never at the potholes.
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