On Wednesdays, I’ve taken to sitting in front of my window for two hours, seeking to dwell in the time between golden hour and sunset. The tree tops become drenched in honeycomb gold, and the orange blush of the horizon deepens into sienna hues, as if the sky were shy at heaven’s compliments of her beauty. And as the sun tips further away, making its unending journey west, the moon appears, faded, behind settled tones of peaceful peony with a touch of purple grey. The stars wink into visibility. There are tears on my cheeks, though I don’t remember crying.

Sometimes, the neighbor’s cat comes to sit on the wall behind my backyard. Paws folded with decorum in front of him, he tips his head back to watch the flushed sky. He’ll look up at me with searching eyes, only to be distracted by a twittering bird swooping past in the wide expanse of field that separates my home from the neighboring dairy farm. And I wonder at my silent companion — his swiveling ears and sensitive nose. I dare not reach out a hand for fear of scaring him in the silence.

Then, blue hour plays tag with the golden. From north to south they sneak over the fields until one overtakes the other, before both are swept beneath the dusk. The last fading light from the sun hushes, and suddenly the world, this side of Eden, is asleep.
“Lord,” I say, with trembling lip. “You say you are making all things new. Help me to believe that. Because right now, it feels like everything just keeps dying.”

The sunset becomes a metaphor for this prayer, and I cling to it with the little remaining strength I have left in my aching limbs. Everything is dying. Everything appears to bow to the darkness, and I find myself bowing, too. I find myself believing the darkness — those lies in my head that tell me there is no meaning and that life is purposeless — and then I find myself swathed in despair, as if it were supposed to keep me safe. The darkness feels friendly, like the old Simon and Garfunkel lyric, “Hello, darkness, my old friend.”

In the midst of a series of unknowns, in the midst of spiritual wilderness and feeling far from God, the darkness remains eerily known. At least, I’d like to think I know everything there is to know about the darkness. Worse, I’d like to think I know everything about God.

But if I knew all that God does in a wilderness, I would never follow him there.

excerpt from a longer essay I wrote last month, “This is the Way; Walk in It”

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