dark nights…

there, in the dark of night, was a quiet beep, followed shortly by another, further away. the cordless phones, unable to find their signal, were making their dilemma known.

it was terribly dark, and I was cold.

the nightlights I’d left on were dark.

it seemed the power had gone out for everyone around the lake. the clouds, like a thick blanket, covered the moon and stars. no help from outside to guide me through the cabin and quell the beeping. the furnace was out. my flashlight was missing, relocated by little fingers earlier in the day.

it was a deep, an all-encompassing dark. no amount of time to adjust seemed to help me see a thing. furnishings around the cabin were suddenly potential tripping hazards. I could not see the island across the water. or the far shore.

it was dark. plain and simple.

it drew me back to conversations about spiritual dark nights.

I generally enjoy night. the quiet. the thinking and processing time while others sleep. I find it peaceful and it feeds this introverted soul. the spiritual dark night seems, in the middle of the questioning of God, a similar time of rest, allowing Him to do His mighty work.

but I realized anew last night how dark the dark can be. everyday objects suddenly became obstacles, potential dangers.

how like our faith-journey!

when there are no street lights, no moon or stars, when the nightlight is gone, and no welcoming glow comes from a single house, it is truly dark.

in our spiritual lives, dark times come. God feels far away. everyday objects and routines can become obstacles. what we thought we knew is challenged on new levels. things that are supposed to “work” now seem useless.

there are no silhouettes to guide us. the familiar is suddenly frightening. what will happen in the dark? will we stumble and fall, breaking a bone in the process? or will a stubbed toe be the extent of injury? is it possible come through the dark unscathed? does some sort of “flashlight” exist to help relieve the angst?

how amazing that God, unlike the moon, does not abandon us in our hour of need. He is still there, more powerful than any flashlight.

after tucking the phones, with their twin beeps, under a blanket and pillows and closing the door, I went to find a flashlight, returning to bed in the very quiet and very dark night.

the call for help I’d expected came. more like a scream. because she talks in her sleep, we waited to see how real the need was before venturing back into the cold and dark. “Mommy! I can’t see! Mommy! Help me! Mommy!”

her own volume was so loud she could not hear my voice, calling to her as I made my way (with the flashlight!) to her bedside. picking her up, I felt the great tension in her and the release of it when she knew safety and love had rescued her. as I settled her between us, she snuggled in, safe in her daddy’s embrace, no longer caring that she could not see. it was a new experience for her, this blindness in the dark.

the parallel of her experience and my own spiritual life is not lost. how I kick and scream for God, afraid of the dark that surrounds me. all the while, He offers words of comfort. in my panic, He wants to calm me, to embrace me. but I am too busy fighting the dark (and often Him) to know.

how do you experience the dark, whether natural or spiritual?



Filed under abiding, being, John 15, spiritual formation

3 responses to “dark nights…

  1. Kathryn Burke

    I actually choose darkness, on purpose. I find it calming; it opens up for me the twinkles of the most distant galaxies. I abhor street lights, city lights, spot lights neon lights, fluorescent lights. I DO have a nightlight in my bathroom but only so I don’t have to turn on the Big Light at night. I love to sit in the dark and drink tea, or talk with a friend, or just think. Sounds come alive in the darkness — spring peepers, an owl, crickets. Darkness does not frighten me — but, then again, I’ve never been lost in it. Yet.

  2. This was beautiful. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for your wise and transparent words. Good stuff.

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