When I was a teenager, I can recall having an unspoken bedtime of 9 p.m. It’s when my Dad went to bed, and I never thought to stay up any later. As a result, I’ve never been (ok, there was a short stint in college and my early 20’s) a late sleeper. I rise early and as time has gone on, early has been redefined to, what some would call, the middle of the night. 4 a.m. I get up, work out, spend quiet time…over three hours of me time before heading to the office.
Maybe fifteen years ago, in the height of my cycling life, I started riding with a girlfriend in the early morning hours. We’d log 40 miles before going to work. As a result, I became familiar with the signs of the night shifting into dawn. Studying the stars as we pedaled through the countryside and watching as they faded, and the horizon turned from inky black to shades of indigo, to red, orange and eventually – if we were out long enough – we’d see the edges of the sun.
I came to love this time of day and it’s stayed with me. Experiencing the dark, the stillness of the early morning. There’s a renewal at that time of day, palpable in the darkness, a time of newness and possibility. The possibility of restoration of life.
I recently read Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, well worth adding to your list. In it, she explores what we can learn in the darkness, but to do so, we need to learn to walk in the dark. We must “sign a waiver that allows you to bump into some things that may frighten you at first.” We must practice. Already having a love of the actual darkness of the early morning drew me to her words.
And then I ran across a line that caused me to stop, reread, and revisit once I moved past it. “Resurrection happened in the dark.”
As a Christian, I reflected how we focus on the fulfilled promise in resurrection with our eye on the third day. But the second day…a day of darkness…that’s where the resurrection was taking form. We don’t know what happened that day. It’s darkness. But it’s a critical day for what follows. There would be no resurrection without the darkness.
In our own lives, the darkness often causes fear. Darkness represents a side that we often want to avoid. Except…it’s necessary. For growth, we must wrestle through the darkness. It’s a space of learning, growing, expanding. And it can be scary, we bump up against things we may not have expected or want to face. When I think of the literal darkness I willingly embrace every day, and the learning that comes from spending time reflecting on the metaphorical aspects of what’s taking shape in the dark, it causes me to pause.
In what ways could we expand our understanding if we are willing to explore the darkness. What would come to life, be resurrected, if we spend time listening to what darkness will teach us? Darkness can be uncomfortable, we may be confronted with different ideas, understandings…and those could creep into the light. So be it.
We can, and do, celebrate resurrection. But don’t rush past the darkness. Darkness that looks different for you than it does for me. Has a different learning for you than it does for me because we are made uniquely and have different areas of ourselves to develop in the darkness. What we’re bringing to light through our journeys in the dark may bring joy and a deeper understanding. Our own resurrection.