Walking in the dark

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Walking in the Dark

Last week on a gloriously sunny day, mortality met me thrice before lunch: I was told that the principal ballet dancer I'd been watching perform the evening before in a Matthew Bourne production had been killed while motor cycling to work; I was on my way to gather up clothes for our Clothes Sale from the home of an elderly lady who had recently died; thereafter I was driving to Dartmouth to visit a close friend whose husband died suddenly last autumn while walking the Pilgrims Way to Santiago del Compostela.

Driving along the A303, death seemed such a random roll of the dice! Like so many before, I found myself asking why, but more productively, what can be learned from this?

As it happened — is it ever a coincidence? — the book I had packed with me to read was " Learning to Walk in the Dark" by Barbara Brown Taylor. I can recommend it!

She explores our tendency to associate all that is good with light, and all that is difficult and dangerous with darkness. She asks whether God doesn't work at night too?

"Darkness" is often shorthand for anything that scares us, either because we are sure we don't have the resources to survive it, or because we don't want to find out: the absence of God, fear of dementia, the loss of those nearest and dearest, to name but a few from my personal list.

But darkness can teach us, as well as light. After all, Jesus' resurrection happened in the dark: in complete silence and absolute darkness.

There is so much to unpack in her book, but in brief, her conclusion is:
"even when light fades 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 your call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone. There is a divine presence that transcends all your ideas about it, along with all your language for calling it to your aid.... here is the testimony of faith: darkness is not darkness to God; the night is as bright as the day."

As we each explore what faith means to us, may we also find how darkness is essential for our growth, letting it teach us what we need to know, along with the nightlife of our soul.

I've packed another of her books this weekend: "An Altar in the World".....

Karen L Booker ( Pastoral Assistant)

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