Sitting in Darkness

26 12 2010

The room was huge – over a football field in length; a football field wide; and half a football field high. A small stadium could fit. We filed in and sat in the seating provided for us by our host – the belly of the Appalachian Mountains. Tuckaleechee Caverns are located in Townsend, Tennessee, bordering the Smoky Mountain National Park.

My family along with other “explorers” had descended 150 feet under the mountains. We walked along a man-made path, lit by faux lighting, past unbelievable formations. But now, we sat in the “Great Room” being warned about the impending darkness – the little light we had was about to be extinguished. We waited in anticipation…then…black! A strange paradox of feelings rushed through me…fear and exhilaration.

Nothing! I could see not a thing…not even my hand an inch away from my face. I was glad I was sitting down. There was no way I would want to try and move around in this darkness.

I was reminded, again, of sitting in the Great “dark” Room in the Tuckaleechee Caverns as I read Sue Monk Kidd’s book When the Heart Waits where she addresses the darkness we eventually experience. We all experience darkness and shadow times in our living – depression, a death of some one we love, health issues that keep us from doing what we long to do, spiritual droughts, a schism in relationships – and we could name many more. I, like you, want to move out of these dark places as soon as possible. Light feels so much better – I can see where I’m going; I feel more secure; there are not as many unknowns. With light I can focus on what is outside of me…I do not have to think about or sit with what’s on the inside. We do not like persistent darkness!

But we cannot escape the darkness that life sometimes brings. So what shall we do? In her book, Kidd points out that “the most significant events in Jesus’ life took place in darkness: his birth, his arrest, his death, his resurrection.” (p. 151) Could it be true for us as well? Could significant events…significant transformation…come from our darkness? What if we did not hurry or try to escape our darkness before it is time? What if we embraced it…sat with it…held it…offered it to God? Kidd relays another insight about darkness – it is in darkness that an incubation period happens – change…metamorphosis! We often talk about and want spiritual renewal – some type of spiritual rebirth; but before the birth takes place, there is the incubation period…waiting…in the dark. (pp. 147-148). And in the waiting and in the darkness there is a hope…a promise…we are not alone.

While sitting in that pitch black cavern, I did not want to move…I felt I could not move – all I could do is sit, wait and watch. While I was sitting in that blinding dark, fear called my name – wanting me to give way to panic so I could not experience exhilaration…anticipation. So it is with our dark times. We are called to wait and watch for God’s movement within us. We are called to embrace fear and to give way to the hope and promise of renewal…of rebirth.

While sitting in that dark cavern, beside me I felt a hand reach out for mine, and I responded – my daughter’s hand and mine found each other…I was not alone. And in the dark nights of our soul, we are not alone. Just as I sat in the womb of the mountain, so we all are carried in God’s womb.

So may God give us all grace and courage to sit with our darkness; to not to escape prematurely. May God fill us with the anticipation and expectation of new birth…again and again.

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2 responses

26 12 2010
Dick Ransom

Excellent post! Two related thoughts: (1) When I had my one caving experience, and it came time to turn off all of the lights, the cave remained lit (much to everyone’s surprize) by the green glow from my sports watch. The moral may be that light may relieve the darkness from an unexpected source. (2) Things are not usually as dark as I think they are. Sometimes I am afraid to use the light available, because I am afraid of what it will reveal. When the light is actually used (likely at the urging of family members or colleagues), I am often pleasantly surprized by what I see.

26 12 2010
gacochran

So True Dick! Good points!

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