Hello Darkness, My Old Friend?

Box Full of Darkness

[On the heels of last week’s Robin Williams post, I thought I’d share some rewards to be found in the dark.


I walked into an exam room for a recent appointment, book in hand to wait out the delay for my doctor.

I noticed a dogeared issue of Time on the counter.  Its cover piqued my interest, my novel forgotten.

The headline…

Let There be Night: Finding God in the Dark

The subhead…
Beyond Enlightenment: Strength, purpose and true faith are found in the shadows.

So true.

You don’t know this about me, but I’m a hardcore runner.

And while I run for fitness, that’s not what I mean.

When darkness or loss comes calling, I run for the hills {both literally and figuratively}.  My family knows this well.

I’m a bona fide flight risk.

Any others out there?

Darkness is too scary.

We see darkness as a place entirely devoid of light, a place far from the presence of God.

But is it really?

While darkness houses fear, it’s also an incubator where fear meets transformation and real-time healing happens.

The Time article ~ written by journalist Elizabeth Dias ~ highlights Barbara Brown Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark.

Learning to Walk in the Dark
It shares the benefits of allowing yourself to hold still and learn from the darkness.  It’s on my list to pick up at Barnes & Noble.

Dias:  “… darkness holds more lessons than light and… contrary to what many of us have long believed, it is sometimes in the bleakest void that God is nearest.

“On a very practical level,” Taylor says, “we pay a high price to shut out the darkness… Our spiritual avoidance of the dark may be even more dangerous.  Our culture’s ability to tolerate sadness is weak.  As individuals, we often run away from it.”

Taylor:  “We are supposed to get over it, fix it, purchase something, exercise, do whatever it takes to become less sad.  Turning into darkness, instead of away from it, is the cure for a lot of what ails me.”

Dias:  “Taylor is reviving an ancient idea in Christian theology, one that the mystics of the Middle Ages understood:

Darkness holds divine mystery.”

Taylor: “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.”

Bible characters knew the darkness well.  As Dias notes, “The exodus from Egypt happened at night.  God met Moses in the thick darkness atop Mount Sinai to hand down the Ten Commandments.  The apostle Paul’s conversion happened after he lost his sight.  Jesus was born beneath a star and resurrected in the darkness of a cave.”

Taylor:  “If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isn’t there a chance we are running away from God?”

The wound is the place where the Light enters you - Rumi

Brennan Manning said…

“For Ragamuffins, God’s name is Mercy.

“We see our darkness as a prized possession because it drives us into the heart of God.

“Without Mercy, our darkness would plunge us into despair ~ for some, self-destruction.

“Time alone with God reveals the unfathomable depths of the poverty of the spirit.  We are so poor that even our poverty is not our own: it belongs to the mysterium tremendum of a loving God.”  {The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out}

God is Mercy

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark side. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift.  If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”  {Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging}

Dare to reach into the darkness

“Hope knows that if great trials are avoided, great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.”  {Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging}

Scripture reveals God’s presence in the dark:

“The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” {Exodus 21: 20}

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” {Isaiah 42: 16}

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” {Psalm 139: 11-12}

When the crutches fall away and loneliness stalks, a silver lining emerges…

God is present and this is enough.

Little Black Raincloud - Zakhar Krylov

Universal truth: The darkest clouds bring the greatest growth.

And thankfully, the darkness is temporary.

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” {Psalm 30: 5}

Besides, valleys make the mountaintops all the sweeter.

Next time I face the dark, I’ll try to remember to sit down in the middle of it…

Trust that God is near and working…

And enter the divine mystery, where lessons fly freely and healing awaits.

Claire Signature

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