Last week I read a book called Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. I wanted to send something to a person whose life had not been going well and although I had read most of Taylor’s books, this one had eluded me. The title came to me as I was driving to Barnes & Noble, one of the “oasis” places in my life. I bought the book but, not wanting to send something I had not experienced myself, set to reading what was a wonderful reflection on both physical and spiritual darkness. When I read about Tobit being cured of his blindness this morning (Tobit 11:5-17) I went looking for an appropriate, contemporary message in Taylor’s text. (Yes, I went back and bought the book for myself.) Taylor uses the phases of the moon to speak of physical darkness – in positive as well as scary ways – and has lots of examples from her life and from the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. The deeper moments are, predictably, about spiritual and psychological darkness and she does a masterful job, I think, of weaving the effects and the lessons from both arenas. Below is a quote for the day that can give us a taste of what it might mean, especially for those of us in the “second half of life”, perhaps.
Step one of learning to walk in the dark is to give up running the show. Next you sign the waiver that allows you to bump into some things that may frighten you at first. Finally you ask the darkness to teach you what you need to know…Meanwhile, here is some good news you can use: even when light fails and darkness falls – as it does every single day, in every single life – God does not turn the world over to some other deity. Even when you cannot see where you are going and no one answers when you call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone…but whether you decide to trust the witness of those who have gone before you, or you decide to do whatever it takes to become a witness yourself, here is the testimony of faith: darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day. (p.15-16)