Barbara Brown Taylor on “Learning to Walk in the Dark”

 Barbara Brown Taylor, in an interview about “Learning to Walk in the Dark” says:
“The darkest places in the world are the places where we can see the most stars. –
There are about 100 references to darkness in the Bible and if you focus just on the word searches, the verdict is unanimous: Darkness is bad news…….. At the linguistic level, darkness is almost uniformly negative from the beginning to the end of the Bible. But when I dug deeper and began to pay attention to narratives that took place at night or under cover of darkness, the whole focus changed from negative to positive. Think of God telling Abraham to look up at the stars in the night sky. Or think of what happened to Jacob at night: wrestling with an angel. ……And the vision of the stairway to heaven, which came at night, produced the famous line: “Surely God was in this place—and I did not know it.” ……. These are moments of huge transformation at night. In the Nativity story, think of the shepherds looking up into a sky that is exploding with angels. Think of Magi following a star through the night. Now darkness becomes much more interesting!”
“I get invited to a lot of churches and events with church leaders. When I walk into some churches, these days, it feels like a hospice. I can smell the anxious sweat in the air. The first questions people ask me are: What can we do to reverse the tide? What can we do about losing members? How can we—well—they’re really asking: How can we not die?
It seems to me that it’s time to stop all of that worrying. All that hand wringing is only convincing people that they don’t want to come inside here with you. It’s time to say: Let’s take inventory and see what is here and see what is life giving. It’s time to decide to be alive in a new way.
Now, I can’t say that without adding: I also visit lots of vibrant churches celebrating what is truly life giving. But, I think anyone who has ever loved a community of faith has—at some point or other—been disappointed by that community. In writing this book, I discovered a lot of new guides—men and women—who calmed me down, consoled me and got me ready for whatever is next.
Interviewer: I’m going to jump way back to the beginning of your book and point to a line that I’ll bet is going to be quoted in countless church bulletins and sermons in coming months: “Step 1 of learning to walk in the dark is to give up running the show. Next you sign a waiver that allows you to bump into some things that may frighten you at first.”
BARBARA: That’s the story of this book. And that’s the living definition of what it means to have faith: I’m not assured that everything’s going to be safe and all right—but I am assured because of all the others who have walked this way before. Their walking before me—and around me—convinces me that this is the way of life.”
Barbara Brown Taylor lives on a rural working farm in Georgia. She refers in her new book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark”, to the time in the 1930’s when rural America was being wired and lit up by the REA’s electrification project. One of my favorite authors, Terry Kay, also from Georgia, writes about that time in “The Year the Lights Came On.” I recommend it. A story of growth and discovery.
These metaphors about light and darkness, by Barbara Brown Taylor and Terry Kay, are well worth exploring, as there is indeed, light even in the darkness. One’s eyes have to adjust in order to be able to see it sometimes. In a matter of 30 minutes one’s eyes will adjust to such exquisite light sensitivity that one can see even a mere 1/10,000 th of the amount of light that is visible in the daylight. Our spiritual vision may sometimes take a little longer to adjust to the darkness……