I am in a dark place now.

That means I’m hurting.

Or it could mean that I’m feeling lost, and scared, and struggling.

I could be retreating here to this dark place, trying to get re-energized.

Or I could be here processing what’s happened—or dreaming of what will come next.

Where I live, we are in the darkest time of the year, slowly creeping toward more light, and we tend to perceive darkness as something bad, in comparison to light. But tonight, I started to see that darkness is good too, since the hurtful and confusing times are the ones that are able to precipitate the most growth.

I was thinking about how a tiny seed decomposes beneath the earth. It seems to be rotting, but that is how it starts to open up. A seed needs darkness to degenerate and then germinate. The process of forming new sprouts can look like a long and painful one to us. And it’s confusing to witness the process too, as a kind of death brings new life.

Every trial that we go through—whether it involves our health, our relationships, our financial situation—leaves us in a dark place for a relatively short or drawn-out period. But while we are in it, not knowing which way to go can feel like forever.

We learn our uniquely designed lessons from our limitations and from our lows. Somehow, we need the darkness for our essence to emerge as well.

And you know what? We accomplished the most growth of our entire lives when we were developing embryos, hidden inside a dark womb. So miraculous growth takes place in darkness.

“Yotzair or u’voray choshech”—G‑d “formed light and created darkness.” Darkness is not merely the absence of light. It is an important and indispensable creation. Light symbolizes fulfillment and redemption. Darkness is an essential ingredient in helping us reach toward that new place.

Fittingly, in a dark room, these insights came to me last night.

Luckily, I’ve got a pad and pen right by my bed, because during the long, dark night, clarity seems to rise up more easily, especially toward dawn.

So I was scribbling away, not even able to see the words I was writing.

And now here they are.

Another infinitesimally small breakthrough sprouts from darkness.