Yesterday evening as I was briefly trying to clean out the junk from my inbox in the short time I was online before trying to sleep, I saw a message from the festival coordinator, who reminded us to focus on the world tomorrow rather than the world today. Given that my own planned message is a contrast between the two, is was likely a welcome reminder that was probably pointed at least a little bit at me. And, truth be told, that is not entirely unfair. As far as people go, I am likely a bit too much attracted to things that are dark and grim  for the comfort of some other people. To be sure, this can be an immense liability when one is looking towards a right and cheerful vision, and I will be the first to admit that such a dark and gloomy mindset has some severe disadvantages, not the least of which is the way it gives a certain sense of urgency to the battle of hope against despair.
One of the facts that can be readily understood by anyone is that a trip looks much different in the day than in the night. I tend to arrive at work and depart from work in darkness much of the time, and when one dwells in darkness so much it is hard to think of how things look in the light. When one makes the same trips along the same roads over and over again, one sees the details in rising and falling light, the shade, the prominence of landmarks, the different details that appear only when one can see with brighter lights than can be found on the front of one’s car. Given that this is something we can recognize in our own lives and along our familiar courses, it ought to be unsurprising that the same phenomenon matters when it comes to our spiritual lives. It is easy to dwell in darkness to such an extent that we become so accustomed to it that it is disorienting to see things in the light–that was one of the lessons of Plato’s discussion of the Cave, it should be remembered. We ought to reflect upon the difference between light and day and remember that we are creatures of the light first and foremost.
Yet I wonder if often the concern that we will neglect the light if we look clearly into the abyss is a bit overblown. It should be conceded that there is much wisdom in the saying that if you stare in the abyss, the abyss stares into you as well, and we are certainly darkened by our experiences of darkness and evil in this world. Yet it is far more common that people do not have any genuine understanding of darkness that would give them a fierce longing for the light. Those who know darkness, if they are not warped beyond all recognition by it, have a yearning for the light that cannot be taught any other way. We should not seek darkness that we may contrast it with the light, but all too many of us will acquire an intimate knowledge of darkness without any great interest in the matter, and having clear eyes towards the real and the idea, towards the present and the future, is the best way to appreciate both. We ought not to be caught up in false dilemmas but rather ought to recognize the complexity of creation, and learn from the contrasts and tensions that we find in all aspects of our existence, rather than seeking to resolve them in either blind optimism or dark cynicism.
The danger of false dilemmas is a serious one, even if it is not the only danger we face. There is a danger in focusing too much on the negative that one loses sight of the vision of a bright and glorious future that will give us encouragement in times of gloominess. There is a danger in having a shallow view of that brightness, one that cannot handle the darkness of reality. There is a danger in pushing any particular side of a tension in such a way that it becomes imbalanced. Nor are we sufficiently wise ourselves to be good judges of what balanced is. To one person, a bottle of wine or several rum and cokes at dinner may be balance in their own minds, while to another person anything would be a threat to balance. Some of us are children of bright and cheery moods, and others among us are deeply gloomy and reflective. May we be fortunate enough that we are to be judged by someone who understands us all to well, and who looks on our struggling with compassion and gentle understanding, and may we be compassionate and understanding and just when the opportunity comes for us to judge.
 See, for example: