“When I entered the cave hoping for a glimpse of celestial brightness, it never occurred to me that it might be so small. But here it is, not much bigger than a mustard seed—everything I need to remember how much my set ideas get in my way. While I am looking for something large, bright, and unmistakably holy, God slips something small, dark, and apparently negligible in my pocket. How many other treasures have I walked right by because they did not meet my standards? At least one of the day’s lessons is about learning to let go of my bright ideas about God so that my eyes are open to the God who is.”
― Learning to Walk in the Dark
A handful of years ago, I purchased this book by Barbara Brown Taylor then let it sit quietly on the shelf in my meditation room. I was both intimidated and intrigued by the title. Having navigated years of darkness of one sort of another, I knew I would be able to relate, and yet, was I ready to sit with Darkness and get to know her as eagerly as I sought out and embraced Light?
A year or so later, this book found me, and just like an old friend, shared with me wisdom and grace.
These words and stories demystified what it means to sit with Darkness. It seems we have a tendency to make Darkness out to be the black sheep of the family–never wanting her to come over and stay awhile, not appreciating that she’s misunderstood.
When we spend time in creation, we realize that both Darkness and Light exist as a necessary relationship for growth, re-creation, and awe. A bulb or seed blossoms from the darkness of the earth. The light of stars and planets is sprinkled upon a palette of darkness. And, God re-recreates our bodies, minds and spirits each day after a night of rest or wrestling.
Even a small baby lying in the manger grew in the darkness of his mother’s womb and was cradled by Darkness so that others could follow Light to arrive at the stable.
If there is one myth I would love to demystify in faith-speak, it’s the notion that Darkness = bad, Light = good. I believe it perpetuates an unrealistic goal of always striving to live in the Light, and when we don’t achieve that goal, we assume we are unhealthy or life is unfair or there is no hope.
Perhaps we could use seasons like Advent to learn to sit more comfortably with Darkness. To appreciate the she too is a part of life. To recognize the God who is.