Recently, a friend brought me a set of Halloween lights she had purchased on clearance. They were a string of black bulbs, perfect for a spooky sort of decor. But, she said, they don't light up black. They are more of a purplish white, which is not what she was looking for. At the time, I nodded in understanding and brought the lights that she was so disappointed in home with me.
Since I don't do much decorating of my own, but enjoy looking at decorations, I walked the lights across the street to a neighbor friend who goes all-out with this sort of thing. (That way, I could see the lights in their full glory.) The neighbor got excited about the new lights and said, "Ooooh! I bet they are black lights!"
At this point, my head immediately was thinking, "No. No, they light up purplish-white, not black." But also in this moment, it hit me - there's no such thing as black-colored light.
That's called darkness.
There's no such thing as a light that is darker than the space it is trying to illuminate. There is no such thing as a light that cannot be seen, as a light emitting blackness would be. There is no such thing as a light that puts out darkness for show. Rather, all light puts down darkness.
I never told my friend, but what she had were actually black lights - lights that illuminate things in a very unique way. Do you remember playing with black lights when you were a kid? In a perfectly dark room, the black lights would light up the brightest things, reflecting somehow off the white on your shirt or on your shoes. My friend was disappointed that her lights would not glow dark, but what she failed to understand was how her lights illuminated the darkest places in the neatest ways.
This has me thinking about so many things, as you can probably imagine. It has me thinking first of all about all the times in our lives that we search for darkness and call it light. That we want things to be darker than they appear. That we think about how cool it would be to illuminate something in blackness. As if that would really be sort of cool.
We have all kinds of misconceptions about light and darkness, all kinds of thoughts that get us messed up. Sometimes, we want a light that is truly darkness and sometimes, we find a darkness that we convince ourselves is light. And sometimes, we have a light that ends up illuminating weird things in the dark for us, playing with the colors and showing us something new that we hadn't thought about. And sometimes, we can be quick to write off the things that don't seem to meet our expectations when, in fact, it might have been what we actually wanted all along; we just didn't understand well enough to know that's what we were wanting.
All of this from a string of lights that wasn't dark enough. Silly friend - there's no such thing as black-colored light.
That's called darkness.