In my writing this week about the God of movement and transformation and transfiguration, one of my favorite T.S. Eliot lines has been illuminated.
This. is. ground. breaking.
These words are a part of me. They flow involuntarily from my lips, like curse words and Help-me-Jesuses from the mouths of the shocked and endangered.
My favorite phrase from all of Eliot’s poetry (and that’s saying something) has been transformed.
“And so the darkness shall be the light
And the stillness the dancing.”
I noticed a new word the other day.
The darkness SHALL be the light.
Shall—like, not yet.
That’s not how I pictured it. With Eliot’s poetic prowess, his omission of the second “shall be” in the phrase “The stillness the dancing,” stillness and dancing became one in my mind. The words interchangeable in the syntax; the images interchangeable in my mind.
The phrase evokes a sense of darkness = light. Stillness = dancing.
But that’s not what Eliot says.
Darkness BECOMES light.
Stillness BECOMES dancing.
As Ann Voskamps puts it in One Thousand Gifts, they are transfigured.
“Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full.”
Darkness transfigures into light. Stillness transfigures into dancing.
Darkness —> Light
Bad —> Good
Grief —> Grace
Empty —> Full
Stillness —> Dancing
Eliot’s not calling us to pretend that we see things we don’t or to imagine that our motionless bodies are boogie-ing. But to anticipate. To be patient.
Because “the darkness SHALL be the light and the stillness the dancing.”
And this, this is comforting.