‘Learning to Walk in the Dark’ by Barbara Brown Taylor

Learning to Walk in the Darkstarstarstarstar“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

This is the latest book by Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopal priest and author of An Altar in the World, her best book by far and not one to miss. Click on the title to see my post on it.

This is such a good one too. It is a study of darkness, both the physical kind (with all the lights out) and the psychological and spiritual kind (living with loss and losing hope). This is not a how-to book, but if it was it would simply advise us to do what the author did–be curious about the dark and our own experience of it–have the courage to explore something that we have resisted and avoided for most of our lives because of a fear built up by our culture. We think faith is all about walking in the light, but there can be plenty of blessings that come when we, in our broken world, inevitably find ourselves stumbling in the dark. Darkness is actually something essential to our health because we need sleep. It is a natural part of our circadian rhythm–walking in the light and resting in the dark. How have we come to fear it so?

In this book the author looks to the phases of the moon to understand our relationship with God, which also naturally waxes and wanes. “…sometimes bright, sometimes faint, sometimes full on, and sometimes just a mere sliver peaking from behind a cloud…” With the darkness when there is no moon, it is important to realize that the light is coming. And when it is bright, enjoy it…because the darkness will return. Embrace these rhythms and learn from them. The invention of the light bulb has given us the false security that we can always be in the light, always in control, never having doubts or fears or times when we do not know the way.

Barbara Brown Taylor is honest and wise. Her writing is marked by humble elegant insights into life, love, and faith which are rooted and earthy but also divine. For her it is more about asking the right questions than having all of the answers. Her books are full of small personal moments that speak volumes.

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