Like y’all may have seen earlier this week, my Barbara Brown Taylor discussion got a little postponed due to our big move. David and I moved from SC back to our hometowns, Atlanta. All of that has been fun, yet totally exhausting. I love the process of moving—it set’s a little restart on your daily routines and schedules, forcing you to do new things and make new choices. So it’s been a really busy week for us, but now I can finally relax, because we’re in the mountains for the holiday weekend. Being up here and watching the fireflies, cruising the lake before dinner, spying on the overgrown mimosa trees…just simply forces you to unwind.
And before I start the discussion about Learning to Walk in the Dark, I wanted to say that I certainly relate to a few parts of her story—but a large connection is feeling some peace and comfort in the darkness of night. And I have to say that that is a heck of a lot easier (to me) when you’re somewhere remote, removed, and untouched, like the mountains or in my case, our lake house– a place where you can sit on a porch at night and feel safe because you only hear bugs and maybe some far off distant dogs. You don’t have to worry about someone creeping up on you, or being eaten by a bear (sure, I guess anything could happen…but that’s where the faith part comes in).
Okay, so like I usually say, here’s how this’ll go. You can read the back-of-the-book synopsis here from when we introduced the book, and we’ll go ahead and get started! As always, there will be SPOILERS. So, join us if you’ve read the book or if spoilers don’t bother you 🙂
I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the following (feel free to number your comment to correspond to the discussion point). Or you can talk about anything else that struck you about the book. I mentioned last week, but I went to hear BBT speak last week in Columbia, SC, and so it spurred a lot of good questions for this. Let’s get started!
1. Taylor has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well? Does the church give us opportunities and time to really explore our “darkness”, before they try to help folks “see the light”? Maybe we want (or need) to stay in the dark for a time?
2. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most. And from our discussion at her reading, people spoke a lot about how when you learn about yourself after coming out of a dark time, it’s often easier to come to that realization “in the rear view mirror”. So, when you’re in the “light” or a good time in your life, it’s easy to say, “wow! everything is really working out right now!” or whatever, but when you come out of the darkness and learn something or grow, it isn’t easy to identify while you’re experiencing the darkness. It usually comes after where you say, “man, I’m really glad I was able to get through ______, I feel stronger now.”
3. Our levels of comfort in the dark vary as well. BBT suggests you look at your night table to get a good idea of your comfort level. Does it hold a lamp and a book or journal? Or does it have your iPad, iPhone, magazines, sudoku book, and a growing to do list? Maybe it’s important to try and go to bed, simply being in the dark, under the covers, just breathing…try it. I did, and it’s harder than it seems.
4. What’s hard about entering and embracing the darkness? Don’t we often get there and realize that is where most of the treasures are?
5. BBT says the best gift she’s received from the darkness is “slowing down”. And I think particularly now when we are all plugged in, we are just all QUICK people. She says that, “When I cannot see where I am going—physically, emotionally, spiritually, take your pick—then out of necessity I drop down into my lowest gear. All of a sudden, I can hear, smell, think, and feel things that were hidden from me while I was rushing around in the light. I know exactly where I am, even when I cannot see where I am going”.
6. In general, I think simply she is suggesting for us all to start by just being curious about our own darkness. What are you afraid of? What do you NOT want to encounter? Why? What will happen to you?