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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Learning to Walk in the Dark

Since moving to the country, my husband Roy and I are developing a new relationship with the darkness.  We travel winding back roads on our way home from evening meetings in the city hopeful that we remember the twists and turns, and that we can see the deer before they decide to appear in the middle of the road.  We are consistently aware of the lunar cycle anticipating the bright evenings offered by a  full moon, and the clarity of a starry night in the darkness of a new moon.  We took deep delight in gorgeous July nights when the lightening bugs danced amid the corn fields in front of our house and essentially made us lose track of time as we watched them prance and twinkle -- thousands of them lighting in that mysterious movement that only a creative God could have dreamed of.  To see the Milky Way after many years of suburban living is a deep delight that takes my breath away.  We have adjusted to the darkness of our bedroom at night without the street lights.  We keep a night light on in our bathroom but there were a few "stumbles" as we re-learned furniture placement and how to walk in the dark.  Roy rises at 4 a.m. on weekdays and is the most skilled at navigating the darkness.  

As I have l made these adjustments and observations, I am mindful of the metaphorical "dark" that many walk when living with a chronic diagnosis.  I often hear people speak of dark night of the soul, living in darkness, a time of confusion and darkness, pushing away the dark -- none of it good and, often, lacking hope that light will come.   On one level, I understand that light is so much more beautiful when experienced within the darkness as I have experienced with this move.  Yet, when it comes to the seeming "dark" places of sadness, loss and difficulty, any sign of light or beauty is so much harder for me to claim.  I can see it in retrospect but it can take a very long time to be known by me.

I am a fan of writer Barbara Brown Taylor and knew that her most recent book, Learning to Walk in the Dark had been released earlier this year.  In the chaos of our move, this fell off the radar and I forgot about it.  The title found its way to me again a few weeks ago.  I found a copy at the library and could not put it down.  When someone is impacted by a book as I was with this one, the first response is that "everyone must read this book."  We all know that is not often the truth of the situation.   It is simply a book that found its way to us at just the right time.  However, I do pass it along as an option to consider if you find yourself navigating a season of spiritual darkness.  Ms. Taylor offers a perspective that we don't often hear taught but is one that, at its core, I suspect many of us have wondered about and couldn't quite articulate.  She writes,

"… I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion.  I need darkness as much as I need light."

Whether or not you pursue this book for yourself,  I pray that your seasons of darkness do not overwhelm and that points of light make themselves known when and where they are most needed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Judy for once again sharing from your heart and helping us to glimpse deeper insights into God's presence with us. I actually just started reading Barbra Brown Taylor's book, as the description seemed to fit this time in my life. The one thing I have learned about experiences of the dark night of the soul, is that even though all seems dark, and the ways in which we had become accustomed to seeing and being with God are no longer open to us, but the desire for that connection continues to grow and deepen. Periods of darkness are also invitations to move into a new way of being. Sometimes I discover that I am in the dark, because I have closed my eyes and need help opening them anew... AWBA and your reflections help serve as one of the invitations to open my eyes anew...