by Pamela Hawkins
I used to be afraid of the dark. When I was small, my parents always left a closet or night light on for me, at least until I could fall asleep. I do not recall ever being made to think this need for light was silly or childish. It was simply a need, a request, a way for me to feel safe and oriented - and my parents calmly and lovingly provided the light that I needed.
But somewhere in my life I began to need the dark. I began to long for real darkness in which deep rest could come. When fragments of light leak into my room and into my tightly closed eyes, I become restless and frustrated. Light sometimes interrupts my need for darkness - and darkness can restore my longing for the light. I do not know when this conversion happened.
But the other night I could not sleep [again]. I was restless, unable to turn down or off all the distractions of my life [which is, by the way, a very good life]. I got up from my bed because I did not want to awaken my husband, and I went into the den to see if after a little more reading and a glass of milk, I could, eventually, find rest on the couch.
I closed my eyes in what I thought would be good, restful darkness -- good, deep, cool darkness. But no. Light was everywhere: little lights infiltrated the space from sources I had not even considered - the TV control switch, the DVR, stereo, refrigerator, stove, microwave, street light from the road, and security light from the neighborhood.
I used to be afraid of the dark. Now I long for it at times, for without darkness, I fear that I risk taking light, true light, for granted, or I could miss its beauty altogether and never give light a second thought.
Pamela Hawkins, a United Methodist pastor, serves as managing editor of Weavings (www.weavings.org). Prior to her work with Weavings, she served in local church and seminary settings, giving particular attention to the spiritual life and care of clergy and lay leaders. She is the author of Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent and The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent both by Upper Room Books.