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Wednesday
Sep302009

Darkness

Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.

-Henry David Thoreau

I have been thinking a lot about the nature of waiting.  Thumbing through a few things tucked away from a year ago, I stumbled upon a self-portrait drawn by WJ at school.  It is hard for me to look at this sketch.  His teachers told me that when they asked him why he was covering his face in black, WJ said that he was drawing long hair that covered his face, all but one of his eyes.  They believed maybe he was imagining one of his Rock Star fantasies; many Rockers do have long hair.

But when I looked at this drawing, I recognized the image right away. That great darkness, broken only by an empty place. 

What WJ sketched as his own face that day in school a year ago was his memory of the image he had seen on the screen of the ultrasound machine at my midwife’s office a few weeks before.  Darkness.  Lots of it.  And in the midst of the darkness an emptiness where a baby was expected to be.


In the weeks that followed that ultrasound appointment last year, during the weeks of waiting for the inevitable miscarriage to come, WJ crept beside me when we were alone and asked me the kinds of questions I had imagined we might not face until his teenage years.  How could God have known the baby if the baby didn’t have a name? Why wasn’t God taking care of our baby? 

Other times he made quiet declarations.  It is dark inside your body where the baby was. Yes, I replied, it is dark inside of me. 

There comes a great darkness when you realize the extreme powerlessness of your inability to keep your children safe, even when held within yourself, even when tucked so perfectly away from the world. 

In a way our family all followed the baby into the darkness this year.  While in the first days this darkness was deep and black like a nightmare, our eyes slowly adjusted to it and I have been able to see the wisdom in WJ’s soft pronouncement to me. 

I can see now that this particular darkness is less like that of the deep of the night and more like the dark of the depth of the womb.  We have been encompassed in these weeks and months, encompassed within the love of family and friends, held tight by the prayers of those same and others.  We have been able to hear the world beating on around us.  We have been sustained.  In this darkness we have been growing. And changing.  Waiting to come out into the light and see newness and all that has been prepared.

In the first few weeks of school, WJ’s teachers focus on Creation and tell this story again and again.  In the beginning there was a great darkness. And then the Word spoke light.  But the darkness was not gone.  It was called Night and it was called Good.  Days passed and then darkness was broken, but not by emptiness.  It was dotted instead by heavenly lights.

Waiting implies lack.  But it also hints at hope. We are indeed ready to wait.  And I hope our waiting reveals humility—an understanding that we are not in control but instead held safe, a trust that the darkness is eternally dotted with heavenly lights.

There is a prayer prayed at our school and at bedtime tonight here in our home:

God is light.

In him there is no darkness at all.

God is not far from any one of us.

In Him we live, and move, and have our being.

Amen.

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Reader Comments (10)

Beautifuly said.

I had a miscarriage earlier this year, so I completely understand the darkness. Even when it seems like it's the end and it will be dark forever, hope comes. Hope and the light.

September 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I too know the darkness you speak of all too well. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my baby on Christmas Day. Brought that day into a whole new realization for me. I do well to envision my baby playing at the feet of Jesus. I can't wait for the day when I get to do what I was never given the opportunity to do, hold him tightly. My children still speak of the sibling they never got to see & anticipate the day they do see him.
Praying your heart seeks Him who can heal it completely.

September 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Scientific evidence states we carry part of our children with us for the rest of life, they are part of our very beings in our wombs. Part of our flesh and part of our bodies overall, as they move toward light our darkness shifts in ways we do not understand. I hold onto this knowledge for the children I never held in my arms but had as part of my body, part of my soul. They have given me more than I knew at the time was possible.

I am sorry for the loss of your child.

September 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbeth aka confusedhomemaker

I'm so sorry you experienced this loss. :(

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Oh, that's beautiful. so beautiful. so true and honest. i have always loved the fact that God created the moon and the stars to give light at night. even his creation reflects the fact that he does not allow for total blackout darkness. you have captured that metaphor in this post on so many levels - thank you for sharing your journey of following the dotted lights. My favorite part: "In this darkness we have been growing. And changing. Waiting to come out into the light and see newness and all that has been prepared." I trust it comes quickly.

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthegypsymama

Wow. I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing this. You did a beautiful job.

October 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdvocate Mom

My mother had six miscarriages and a false pregnancy. I was her only one to make it past the first trimester. This morning we were talking about those babies. She told me that God must have needed them in heaven. And He knew that she would love them forever even if we never got to meet them so He trusted them to her for long enough to get their mansion ready. She says that is the only thing that makes the pain lesser - knowing that they are waiting up there to meet their Mama.

Thank you for being so transparent in your post. May God's hope flow over you.

October 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

I, too, lost a baby. Your beautiful words captured the emotion of that experience so beautifully and powerfully. I nodded and said, "Yes, yes." It made me think of this verse...

"Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:12

And when I just looked at that verse I realized this is the one that comes after it...

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139: 13

I'm in tears now. You and I, sisters in the dark and His light, held by His love through it all. Thank you for providing a door through which He comforted my heart today.

Holley, I turned to Psalm 139 one day when my own assurance to WJ about God's care for the baby was not comforting him. I read that verse to him about being knit together in the womb...it had a profound impact on him and his questions relaxed over the next day.

And in the moment that followed for me, I had the reverse experience from you just now... I went looking for verse 13 and verse 12 caught my eye, that the night will shine as the day. It gave me strength as well. Thank you for reminding me of that.

Thank you, all of you, for your encouragement here. I am touched by your care.

October 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterEmily

I am so sorry for your loss. Have a miscarriage is really hard. I've had two before I was blessed with my two children. Explaining what has happened to your son, must have been heartbreaking.
I pray that this year is better for you all!

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKasey@AllThingsMamma

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