Sometimes darkness presses in all around, suffocating, like the hazy veil of smoke from a nearby wildfire. It irritates our eyes, catches in our breath, and coats everything in layers of black soot. But we are able to hold it at bay, just beyond the ragged edges of our being. We figure out how to cope.
And then sometimes the darkness infiltrates our very soul; and wherever we turn, within or without, we flounder in desperate night.
In that place, it feels like we will surely die. Our natural response is to flee. We take flight down various paths such as distraction, busyness, or the comfort of idols. Or we simply substitute a mindset in place of our terror and pretend with all our might that the darkness is not there. We fortify ourselves by any means possible to keep from dying.
But what if we were to rally every ounce of our strength and actually stay there in that nightmare place, wholly present to ourselves and our frenzied need, wholly crying out to God?
What if we were to recognize the darkness not as evidence of our unworthiness to approach the God of all Light, but as an invitation to press closer, to find what we can never manufacture on our own?
What if we were to stop trying, and simply let go, like a weed casting its seeds into the wind? Bit by bit the little parachute packets fly away, and the plant yields to the turning of seasons. It does not deny nor fight the fact that it is dying. It simply is what it was made to be in that moment.
Perhaps in losing everything, we would find ourselves found. Perhaps in surrendering to the darkness, we would find we are received into the light.
Perhaps in dying, we might find that we live.
With special thanks to Shana Puckett, for processing these ideas with me. And for living them.