Light: Out of the darkness


As a native Floridian, winters are hard for me.  It’s not just the closed toe shoes and the cumbersome layers of clothes that make me feel constrained liked a mummy wrapped in fleece.

It’s the darkness.

The shorter days, gray skies, and the browning emptiness leave flowers blighted and bare trees somber.  I don’t notice how much it affects me until spring arrives, and I am awed by the glorious light. I catch myself staring out the window. I see the green growth of new leaves on the mounds of sticks sprouting up from the earth and the reliable bloom of azaleas bursting bright with joy, but it’s the light, pervasive and ethereal, that captivates me.

It reminds me of my relationship with God.  How at times, he seems dormant and, despite my efforts to seek him, I feel alone wandering in a thicket of weeds.  The weeds of life are everywhere: dissatisfaction with our jobs, difficulty with our children, disappointments in our marriages, and disillusionment with our lives.

I hate the weedy parts, feeling out of touch with someone who I know is so beautiful.  They scare me and remind me of the fear and abandonment Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was knowingly awaiting torture and death.  My problems pale in comparison.  Still, I know they matter to him, just like Jesus’s did to our heavenly father.

During these times, I try to trust as Jesus did.  Thy will be done.  But mostly, I feel like a toddler writhing out of a winter coat.  It’s like Jesus is hibernating in my heart, and I badly need him to come out and warm the chill that aches me.  I am desperate for his light that helps me navigate the nuances of life.  And despite my wrangling, there are times he just seems asleep in the tomb, with that big heavy rock that might as well be a mountain sealing it closed.

This is the darkness I fear most, that’s the hardest to endure, and the loneliest feeling I know.  It’s also when I cling tight to my faith, remind myself I am rooted in his love, and redeemed by his light.  Knowing this doesn’t make the time in the dark any easier, but it reminds me that like winter, it will pass.

Light always returns. Once again, I see the bloom of his love, the light of his hope, and the color of his conversation that without words communicate his preeminent presence.  And because of that darkness I so dreaded, colors are more vibrant, the sun brighter, and the flowers more fragrant.

As nature dances briskly in the breeze, barefoot I step out of the shadow into the light that is no longer just a promise of what awaits, but the fulfillment of what was always there.


Lent is a time to grow closer to God, to weed out all of the distractions and disillusions that keep us from him.  How do you stay close to God when he feels far away? Did you read last week’s post?



Stillness — the action of finding God

Be Still. God knows I heard this often as a child.  I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes.  When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with “happily ever after.”

Stillness remains a challenge for me.  By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down.  I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cats they are pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again.  Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme.  It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life.  I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.

Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness.  Go faster, be efficient, do more, be more, make more, and have more.  But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still.  Don’t stop and smell the roses.  Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it.  Your time is too valuable.  You need to be producing.

The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by.  You will be considered slovenly.   You will miss out.  You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.

When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control.  We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning.  And tired.  So many of us are tired.

Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God.  I was terrified.  I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it.  Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance.  But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.

And you know what?  I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons.  I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write.  I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.

Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness.  I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace.  It was so much more of an intentional way to pray.  I even read scripture before I started my timer so I felt more deliberate about my conversation with God.

I continued my habit for a while after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into.  Like a child, I resist.  But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.

And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy.  It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.

Want more to help you on your Lenten journey read this.