Darkness & Lent


A friend recently recommended Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “Learning to Walk in the Dark.” I finished it in about a day and a half. All I can say is this: More, please. More lunar Christianity (her phrase, not mine).

The cover shows bare trees bathed in moonlight. There is a white owl in one of the branches and a full moon in the right top corner. On the ground, smatterings of what I think are red poppies. It was all I could do to not break into a chorus of “Into the Woods” (“The light is getting dimmer / I think I see a glimmer.”)

One thing Taylor does in her book is to point out many instances in the Bible in which God shows up in the darkness. While thinking I should probably pull a Monica Sharman and do a word study on the words “dark” and “darkness,” I happened upon these verses in the daily lectionary:

1 Kings 8:10-12
“When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud, since the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;…'”
The dark cloud is God’s presence; it’s literally the glory of the Lord. It’s so dark and it fills the temple so completely that the priests can’t minister. They can’t do their job—God stuff—because there’s too much God in the room.
Why oh why isn’t someone writing a praise song about this?
These days as I get home late each night from rehearsals for “Into the Woods” and as I still get up early and walk the dogs, I’m getting to see more darkness than usual. This morning there were so many stars out Lower Crabapple. I realized that I could only see them because it’s a new moon.
Lent begins today. A process of gradually lengthening and lightening days as we march past first full moon after the spring equinox to Easter. My life may or may not be any lighter by then. Maybe it will reflect the change in seasons, both liturgical and natural. And if not, I’m now more comfortable walking in the dark.
As Shakespeare said, “Come, night.”


from Romeo and Juliet, Scene III, Act II

Come, night, come, Romeo, come, thou day in night;

For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night

Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back.

Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,

Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,

Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night

And pay no worship to the garish sun.


William Shakespeare


  1. so beautiful….the words, the images, the lines from this book.
    And the passage from the Word–the presence of God was so heavy in the dark the priests couldn’t do their job.

    I love the quiet mornings best myself. I wandered out onto the deck in the nearly morning light and glanced up at smudges of clouds overhead, whispering, “Thank you, Jesus.”

    Thank you for the nudges, Megan.

  2. Lovely. Just lovely. And peaceful. Thank you for all of this, Megan.

  3. Nancy Franson says

    I love this book! And yes, oh yes, why is no one writing a praise song about this?

  4. Oh, oh, oh . . . BBT is one of my all-time favorite, favorite writers. And yes, there should be much more openness to the darkness and God’s presence in it. Yea and amen. Thank you, Megan.