Psalm 139 is a beloved text for me, as for many. It names the intimacy and thoroughness with which God knows and loves us. "For it was you who formed my inmost parts, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." The author continues, naming the distant places they could go. There would be nowhere where God was not, including the grave, including the dark cover of night. In these dark places, still God is there.
It is Epiphany Sunday this week, the Sunday when we are called to "Rise! Shine! For your light has come!" Beautiful words from Isaiah 60 but am often troubled with the way we use lightness as a stand in for good and darkness for bad. The Psalmist knows that God is in the darkness.
There is a richness of language that we are missing when we forget about the goodness of the dark. The words of the hymn "Joyful is the dark" capture the magisterial grandeur or darkness: "Joyful is the dark, holy, hidden God, rolling cloud of night beyond all naming...Joyful is the dark depth of love divine, roaring, looming thundercloud of glory."
In these words is a vast and beautifully energetic darkness. But the dark is also intimate and close and fertile. In dark, warm soil grow buried seeds. In the dark bedchamber lovers caress. In the dark nursery we hold our little ones and sing them to sleep. In the dark we feel our way, are gentle.
There are indeed times when it feels like we are flailing in dark nothingness. That feeling of being alone and un-seeing can certainly feel like all dark is. But nothing is darkness to God. There is nowhere we can go that God does not hold us firmly and gently in hand.
May your darkness be blessed.
May it be the soil in which love is rooted and grows.
May it be the ocean over which the Spirit hovers.
May it be the holy place where you are met by God.