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Darkness is rich with theological meaning. Our first thoughts may be of evil things, ala “the powers of darkness.” But there are other applications.

Darkness hides things and people, like Nicodemus’ first meeting with Jesus under the cover of night. From the darkness, chaos, and formless void God formed all created matter, and God’s Spirit hovered over the deep. When Jesus’ breathed his last on the cross, darkness covered the earth—an early afternoon sky looked like that of late evening. In the darkness of the Holy of Holies within the Temple, God dwelt.

We don’t know what darkness means. It may offer and provide good, ill, and everything in between. We can’t see what’s in front of, behind, or around us. Fear easily seizes us, and anxiety grips our minds, robbing us of our well-being.

Biologically and spiritually speaking, darkness is an incubation space where the conditions for development are precisely as they need to be. It is in the darkness of the cocoon (of the womb, of the tomb) where God does some of God’s best work: shaping God’s beloved into who they are meant to be.

When author Sue Monk Kidd was pregnant with her now-adult daughter, her son Bob, then 3 years old, touched his mother’s protruding belly.

“Mama, is it dark inside there where the baby is?” he asked. He was scared of the dark, and afraid for his developing sibling.

“Yes,” Monk Kidd responded, “it’s dark in there.”

“Do you think the baby is scared in there, all by himself?” (Bob wanted a brother.)

“I don’t think so, because he’s not really alone. He’s inside of me.”

At that point Monk Kidd had an inspiration. She’d been spiritually struggling and was in “an inscrutable inner darkness unlike any [she] had ever experienced. A spiritual night.” After she answered Bob, Monk Kidd understood. …

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photo credit: CapCat Ragu via photopin cc

photo credit: CapCat Ragu via photopin cc

I’m over at Gifted for Leadership again with the final installment of the 3-part article series, “Be Still, Ailing Minister.” It is about the importance of cocooning when a church leader has endured a toxic church experience.

You may read the first two articles by clicking on the titles below.

“Be Still, Ailing Minister,” Part 1 (originally posted on Gifted for Leadership on May 20, 2013)

“Be Still, Ailing Minister,” Part 2 (originally posted on Gifted for Leadership on May 23, 2013)