Exploring the Dark

Jeremiah 33:1-13

This passage is hard to read. In Jeremiah’s mind, God’s back has turned away from the people. Their dead bodies will fill the houses and become defenses at the city’s walls. This is the brutal reality of war, as ruthless in biblical times as it is today. Nevertheless, the prophet announces that places that have become a waste without human beings or animals shall once more hear the sounds of mirth and the joy of brides and grooms on their wedding day (vv. 10-11).

In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor reclaims the Medieval Church’s wisdom to willingly explore the dark—both physically and spiritually—in ways that our modern desire for quick fixes and happy endings cannot fathom. She quotes the anonymous fourteenth-century author of The Cloud of Unknowing, who spoke of a cloud between us and God that prevents us from clearly seeing God, “So set yourself to rest in this darkness as long as you can, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness.”

When my father died of a sudden heart attack, the way out of my grief was to sit in my darkness, to fully live into the reality that he was never coming back and what that loss meant to me. Once I did that for a while, I began to imagine a future without his guidance and advice and care. This is the wisdom Taylor tries to reclaim. In letting go of the Jerusalem that he knew, Jeremiah was able to imagine a new Jerusalem full of mirth, singing, and weddings.

Source: The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. Emilie Griffin (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1981), 15, as quoted in Barbara Brown Taylor (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), 48.


When have you had to walk through the darkness and heartache of letting go in order to start imagining a new beginning?


God of light, help us not be afraid of the dark and of learning to find you even in our losses. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Reflections: Daily Devotional Guide volume 32.1.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email