“Turn Off the Dark,” the ad on the radio said. It was announcing the Broadway musical about Spider-Man. It was so unusual, it made me pause. What could it mean?
As I thought about the phrase, it reminded me of what I’m trying to do with my thinking every day – turning off the dark by letting in the light. It’s not uncommon to speak of turning on the light, in the sense of causing the darkness to disappear. This is another way of saying that filling our thoughts with God’s goodness leaves no room for evil.
What I really liked about the expression “turn off the dark” was that it’s a fresh way of saying the old cliché “turn on the light.” To me it was a reminder to check my thinking.
I had occasion to see the benefits of doing this on a yearly visit to Chicago. I was about to catch the train into the city to do a day’s walkabout. In my haste to get to the station, I tripped and my full weight came down on my knee. I was able to get up, but the pain in my knee was severe. That’s when the dark flooded in: “I’m not going to be able to walk around the city with this sore knee.” I briefly wondered if I’d seriously damaged my kneecap. “Even if I’m able to hobble to the station and make it through today,” I thought, “it’s going to be even worse tomorrow.”
I’d experienced healing through prayer all my life, so it was natural for me to turn to God for help in this instance. And I saw I had to turn off the dark. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, referred to light and darkness in this way: “We are sometimes led to believe that darkness is as real as light; but Science affirms darkness to be only a mortal sense of the absence of light, at the coming of which darkness loses the appearance of reality. So sin and sorrow, disease and death, are the suppositional absence of Life, God, and flee as phantoms of error before truth and love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 215).
I recognized that I had not fallen out of God’s care. I could reject all the dark thoughts, because if they were not good, they could not be from God.
When I got to Chicago, I started my sightseeing with a visit to a Christian Science Reading Room, where I could pray quietly. I continued to acknowledge that my joy could not be taken from me. I used the computer to research some ideas about the Beatitudes, which are part of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Their message of blessing reminded me of the importance of gratitude. I was grateful that I knew that I was, and would always be, a child of God. I was grateful for a place to be quiet to pray. Being grateful, I realized now, was one way of turning off the dark.
After I left the Reading Room, I walked for a good part of the rest of the day. I woke the next day better, rather than worse. By the end of the second day I was walking without any pain. I enjoyed my visit to Chicago, not just because it is a beautiful city to explore, but also because I proved what it means to turn off the dark.
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