The Gift of Darkness

“An empty room is silent. A room where people are not speaking or moving is quiet. Silence is a given, quiet a gift. Silence is the absence of sound and quiet the stilling of sound. Silence can’t be anything but silent. Quiet chooses to be silent. It holds its breath to listen. It waits and is still. “In returning and rest you shall be saved,” says God through the prophet Isaiah, “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). They are all parts of each other. We return to our deep strength and to the confidence that lies beneath all our misgiving. The quiet there, the rest, is beyond the reach of the world to disturb. It is how being saved sounds.” -Frederick Buechner

Perhaps it’s a natural reaction to the over-stimulation and over-scheduling of Christmas, but this time of year has me longing for quiet, simplicity, and order. Ironically, I don’t have many of those things right now…and I never seem to have all three of them at the same time.

My favorite time of day has become the first moments after I wake up. (If I wake up before my alarm.) Somehow in those first moments of being awake, all things seem possible, and my connection to God seems direct and unencumbered by my lack of trust and penchant for self-sufficiency. My dreams are literally just a few moments in the past and the thin space between me and another world still feels navigable.

It’s ironic to me that the time where I feel the closest to God is in actual darkness. However, it’s not the darkness of the middle of the night. That is a different animal. That place magnifies problems, replays conversations, and hashes out “what if” scenarios on a never ending loop in my mind. But the end of the night/beginning of the morning is where I find the quiet that Isaiah talks about in 30:15 of his book. It’s where my soul breaths in and out the holiness of God.

I can say the same about the dark seasons of my life. The seasons of sickness, despair, and confusion all feel like a spiritual darkness to me. Cameron Anderson (former Director of CIVA) said that “…in order to be spiritually formed, you have to be willing to draw near to the darkness.” For me, this metaphorical darkness served the same purpose as the actual darkness of the end of the night. It stripped away everything that was unimportant, temporary, and out of my control. As a result, the turmoil of the metaphorical darkness created the same space as the actual darkness for my soul to breath in and out the holiness of God.

While my body longs for the sunshine and warmth of spring, my soul seems to rest in the quiet and dark end of a winter’s night. Maybe it’s because I know that morning is promised and close. Maybe it’s because God is about to make all things new and the reality of that is enough to rest in momentarily. Whatever the reason, it’s a gift from my creator when I get a few minutes in the quiet, thin space to start my day.

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Jennifer Chetelat

I am a potter, gallery curator, wife, and mother of two adultish people. I write about life and faith and learning.

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