“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.” Psalm 23:4
Most people can remember a time when they were afraid of darkness. As a child I had a rich imagination about the things that might emerge from “deep darkness” to hurt me. Parents develop rituals to calm their children before going to bed: listening to soothing music, reading a favorite story together or placing a night light in the room.
There is a wonderful duet on YouTube performed by a little girl and her dad. She can’t sleep because she hears fireworks outside. Together they sing the song, “Tonight, You Belong to Me”, Dad accompanying on a pink banjo, incorporating brief pauses in which the little girl says, “Shsh,” so that she can listen for the imaginary explosions which eventually cease. In Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown a mother rabbit rocks in her chair, while naming each feature of the room to her little bunny. As you turn the pages, they become darker and darker, the features harder and harder to make out as the little bunny falls asleep.
Even as adults we might still turn on a light for comfort when alone in the house at night. But darkness can be psychological as well as physical: the fear of accepting a challenge in the form of a new job in a foreign city or facing the terminal illness of a loved one. Psalm 23, especially verse 4, can become the mantra we repeat to ourselves, reminding us that we will get through this present darkness and we will not be alone. Sometimes, it just takes a little practice.
In the times of darkness we all face, God, wrap us in the comfort of your presence. Amen. Cindi Thiel