Spirituality of the Nighttime

by | Aug 29, 2015 | Ordinary, Reflections

It’s a long time since I needed a flashlight to see.
Really see.
Not just shine light upon for greater clarity,
but really see.

We needed a flashlight at Mt. Carleton Provincial Park in New Brunswick.
(You travel to Bathurst and turn left and drive in the woods for about 100km and you are there.)

We were camping
in a tent,
in a place designated as a Dark Sky Preserve.

We had the gift of a clear sky
– and a nearly full moon
not so many stars.

Still, light slipped away
making solid the space between the trees.
And it was night.
Dark Night.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes about her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark

“This is not a how-to book, but if it were, the only instruction would be to become more curious about your own darkness. What can you learn about your fear of it by staying with it for a moment before turning on the lights? Where can you feel the fear in your body? When have you felt that way before? What are you afraid is going to happen to you, and what is your mind telling you to do about it? What stories do you tell yourself to keep your fear in place? What helps you stay conscious even when you are afraid? What have you learned in the dark that you could never have learned in the light?”

I was afraid to go to the bathroom by myself.
(Well, not exactly a ‘bath’room.)
Darkness invites accompaniment.
Yet I’m a little sad I didn’t risk a solo journey.

I was aware (and a little scared) of the dark beyondness outside the circle made by campfire or flashlight.
What might lurk there?
A wood frog,
leaping through my circle of flashlight
startled me, momentarily.
Nothing more sinister than this,
despite how fear and imagination can join hands.

I will keep watch as this full moon takes its waning journey
for there is more to uncover in the spirituality of the nighttime.

What are your experiences of night?

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  1. I have never been a fan of the dark….especially in the city. But I have grown much more comfortable with the darkness living in my cottage home – the expansive skies, the stars, the creaturely sounds (non-human ones) I remember walking down the dirt lane at night, in my first winter/spring at the cottage, feeling adventurous and afraid. a neighbour’s dog would silently join me partway down and would silently leave before I arrived home. I loved this accompaniment. He was a companion of spirit. This walk in the dark became such a gift and practice. Thanks for helping me remember this!

  2. I love that phrase: fear and imagination join hands.
    I haven’t been a fan of the dark OR camping, but have wanted to go to one of those places that are designated as such.

  3. Were you trying to read with only the flashlight as you did at home when I’d see an glow under the bedding and would tell You to turn out the light and go to sleep.That would have been about Grade 6 and Karen told on you ! after that, I just let you read!

  4. I often think of the first humans and their feelings and beliefs each time the moon would disappear either in its natural cycle or behind clouds. Did they worry about its return? Did they fear the dark as much as we sometimes do? The same with seasons, did they fear perpetual snow and the inability to grow crops? When did hope and faith of the return of light and warmth enter into thei human experience? Do we carry that fear and faith inside us when we are thrust into the darkness? Is faith stronger? I pray it is.

  5. One of my favourite memories as a child on a summer night at the farm was when both my older sister and I knelt in front of our upstairs open bedroom window, elbows perched on the window sill, resting our jaws in the palms of our hands, staring out into the late night, being very quiet as we listened to the crickets and other critters, in awe watching the beautiful star filled sky … the night was so peaceful and quiet. We would only whisper to each other in quiet response. There was no moon shining that evening, just the stars lighting the sky like beautiful crystals, flickering from an unknown distance. Thank you for the memory.

  6. Thanks for your stories, all!

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