A Walk in the Dark
We often spend our energy trying to avoid darkness and dark times. I love to walk early in the morning. When Winter turns to Spring, I leave the house surrounded in darkness. The places I walk look like an ominous journey into darkness. My gut instincts tells me going into that darkness leaves things unsafe and unknown. On a practical matter, I don’t walk in the dark without some light with me.
On a spiritual level this reveals a lot. We all enter times in our lives when the well lit, well traveled parts of our souls, slowly turn dark. For some this happens so slowly it isn’t really noticed until they are engulfed in darkness. For others it happens so fast they are in shock. Either way, continuing down this path now involves fear, the unknown and potential danger. Things that live in the darkness do not like light. They are the secret things, the scary things, the parts of ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to know.
Yet this darkness exists. When walking with God, good things can happen in the darkness too. We come to know ourselves in an honest way. No longer able to avoid this part of ourselves, we can sit down and get to know it. Say hello to judgment, overindulgence or laziness. When they are no longer our enemy, but a piece of us it is so much easier to go to God with them and say, “Here I am. All of me.” When things in the dark are embraced by the light they no longer have the power to control us.
Another gift of the dark is a heightened awareness. When we can’t use our senses the way we normally would the other senses come forward, like intuition and empathy. We have to listen, because in the dark there is nothing to distract us.
It is sad that we don’t encourage the dark. We want everyone to be happy and whole. Probably out of our own fear that their darkness calls to ours. If acknowledged, then we too might have to walk into the darkness. That is too scary so we avoid, fix or cajole the person.
I remember a time when I was at camp and a group of us snuck off the grounds at night. Wandering in the woods at night was scary and thrilling. Every noise got our attention and imagination. We screamed and laughed and linked arms as we groped along looking for even a sliver of light. We were so thrilled and delighted when we found the light. We had such tales to tell, about our adventure into darkness.
What if we approached our own dark days with a bit of that childlike presence. Scared, walking arm in arm, feeling like this was some sort of mission, relying on something greater than ourselves to guide us and then when the day of light comes - sharing our stories of the adventure and peril of darkness and how the darkness did come to an end. If we continually hide the shadow or try to run away from the dark, we will never get to experience the joy of light, resurrection and the power of what God can do. When we don’t share our stories, it will seem like the darkness once entered will last forever and we miss the truth that neither the darkness or the light last. What does last is the presence of God and the gift of community.
Take a walk at night or walk around your home in the dark. What do you notice about how you perceive? What are the thoughts that come to you? How might these perceptions and thoughts help or hinder you when your spiritual journey leads you to a dark place?