Embracing The Darkness

Why should I fear anything that cannot rob me of God...? - Thomas Merton 

When I was a kid, I went through a season where I was afraid of the dark.  I can't really remember how long it lasted, but the whole time I endured it, I couldn't sleep unless there was a light on somewhere in my room.  

At some point, my fear broke, and the night lights went off for the last time.  I don't know what happened to break my fear, but it did.  I began to see darkness not as a threat, but as a welcome respite from busyness, noise and the demands of daylight's often hard realities.    

It's too bad that we associate darkness with negativity, unknowing, dread and fear.  It's also too bad that, for most people of faith, darkness is synonymous with a perceived absence of God, uncertainty, doubt, and desperation.  

The lesson I learned as a kid is one that I find so life-giving to me now.  

We all experience what we tend to describe as "dark" periods of our lives.  We talk about "dark nights of the soul."  We equate emerging from depression, loneliness, and fear as stepping "out of the darkness and into the light."  

But there is beauty in the darkness, too. 

In her excellent book Learning To Walk In The Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor makes a case for the beauty and generative nature of darkness--the kind of darkness where we find God's presence with surprising ease.  

Taylor urges the reader to resist the urge to flee from doubts and fears, to avoid uncertainty and to constantly seek to live outside the reaches of what we see as darkness.  She writes:  
To want a life with only half of those things in it is to want half a life, shutting the other half away where it will not interfere with one's bright fantasies of the way things ought to be. 
What I've come to understand is that in the darkness I am more easily able to let go of all of my own strength, my own sight and my own ability to control and embrace God's presence more fully and completely.  

May you find the strength to let go of your fear of "the dark," and discover God's presence there with you.  May you practice letting go of your need to see everything clearly and trust that even in the shadows, God is leading you, guiding you, loving you.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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