Gifts in the Dark Night - Sarah Batley
Lent Reflection by Sarah Batley
Photo by Jenna Mace
“When I felt secure, I said ‘I will never be shaken.’ Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face I was dismayed.” Psalm 30:8-10
Every February it happens. Friends and family recognize it. Slowly I acknowledge it too: darkness. My inner reality seems to match the solar reality–there seems to be less light and more clouds. Slowly I am learning to fear the clouds less and welcome the obscurity that comes–invited or not. There is almost anticipation that God–in this absolute quiet and dark night of the soul–has something not to say, but to settle in me.
Attachments and obscurity–these are the gifts in the dark night. Things that matter to us seem to lose their grip and things that we are sure of take on a settling uncertainty. And God shows up. Admitting my self-sufficiency and constant striving gives way to a settling. Why does it seem that God, who is always pressing in, is experienced so much more when there is darkness surrounding our souls?
What makes the night blessed is the added assurance that the One who can heal does intend to heal. Where God finds space He enters. This was St. John of the Cross’ first word: “God pressing in to bestow.” This is what makes the nights something other than disastrous.
“I know so well the fountain, rushing and flowing though it be night,
That everlasting fountain comes concealed in this living bread, to give us life though it be night.
~The Fountain (a prison poem of St. John of the Cross)
Father whether it be daybreak or in the midst of the dark night help us to remember that you create both. They are gifts for us to see you, to know you, and to lead us to trust and worship. Thank you that you press in to bestow. Help us to become comfortable with the unsettling that comes from you. Teach us to loosen our grip and allow you the space to enter.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalm 30:11-12