“When I gaze into the night sky/And see the work of your fingers;/The moon and stars suspended in space…/Oh what [are we] that you are mindful of [us]?” Tom Fettke (adapted)
“I have learned things in the dark that I could never learn in the light, things that saved my life over and over again.” Barbara Brown Taylor
A Word of Hope
I couldn’t imagine that it would save my life, for I was dying inside. But in the early dark of an October morning, when the remembered strains of “The Majesty and Glory of your Name” brought choking sobs, I stepped toward learning to walk in the dark. The Alleluia’s ached to speak—more a fervent prayer than praise—for only months before love had died, and with it much of my identity, my joy.
Gentle Maggie bumped my hand to be petted, and as I stroked her silken coat, I looked up at the crescent moon. It seemed to mirror my life—so diminished at that time– but its slender sickle of light was still lovely. Visible too was the fullness of the moon, though but a charcoal shadow. I began to hope, to pray that somehow, somehow, a vital life would return.
That dark morning “the Voice,” which I eventually began to know as God, called me home, claimed me as Beloved after many years away from my faith. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Though most of us would prefer the spirituality of light all the time, many have come to know this lesson: that God who calls us by name offers treasures in the dark, treasures hidden in secret places. (Isaiah 45:3, adapted). We don’t go willingly; we must be led, as Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
But from the long arc of this life, I give thanks for those like Barbara Brown Taylor who teach us of the close and holy darkness, for those who would preserve dark sky communities,* for those who affirm the importance of lament and confession, forgiveness and shadow work for our souls, for those who bravely go into the dusk of injustice to reconcile and heal: for all who seek to save us from light pollution and the half-truths of “full solar spirituality” (Taylor).
Dazzling Darkness, Lead us through our fear to discover the saving graces of the night. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon