The Silence of the Dark

Today is a dark day.

This is the day after their rabbi was crucified, the day after his body was laid in a tomb by his secret disciples, the darkest day in their lives.

This is the day after they saw the light of the world go out, extinguished by powers far stronger than they had imagined.

This day is the day after hope died.

A day of hopelessness, helplessness.

Silence.

I imagine the disciples huddled in dark spaces, bereft of the company of the One they loved deeply, the One for whom they left behind everything to follow, the One who gave them a glimpse of God’s kingdom. And in those dark spaces, all that filled their hearts was silence. The silence of unknowing.

I think about the families of the young people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack at Garissa University, how quiet their homes must feel now after the light of their children’s lives were so awfully extinguished.

I think about the loved ones of the young man who succumbed to his injuries incurred from a motorbike accident.

I think about the family of the young girl who lost the fight to the tumour on her brain.

There is a silence about death that is unlike any other silence. It is a silence of emptiness, a silence that now envelopes the spaces inside us that was once filled by a presence.

I wanted to honour this day with silence. I wanted to be in spaces, where I could enter deeply into the quiet, and so I asked a friend if we could go walking, because I believed that the places where she walked would be such a place.

And it was. There is something deeply spiritual about walking in through a forested mountain and hearing the soft gently sound of water streaming from the summit. The silence was gentle, full. Not the empty silence that I imagine the disciples or the grieving families are experiencing, but a silence that was filled with mystery, with a sense of presence that was unexplainable today.

Even the quiet, intermittent conversations that my friend and I shared today did not disturb the silence that seemed to envelope me as we slowly ascended the mountain.

I stood in awe at the mountains that surrounded us, at the tapestry of forest that boasted varying shades of green, and the surprise of colour that would await us as we rounded a bend. And when we stopped to rest so that I could catch my breath, splashes of colour would draw a startled, excited cry from me, and I would eagerly go closer to marvel at the beauty that was so easy to miss had I just continued on. With every step, I felt that sense of presence growing, gently filling the silence of the forest.

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And then we arrived at the waterfall. I was spellbound as water trickled down the side of the mountain like strings of tiny sparkling crystals. I walked into the stream of water and allowed it to splash on my face, reviving and refreshing me.

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I then took stock of my surroundings and saw that my friend was sitting on a giant tree that had toppled over in storm more than a year ago. And that is when the presence made itself fully known.

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It was resurrection.

As I looked at the dead tree, I saw signs of life bursting from the fallen trunk. It was in the silence of the forest that I encountered the reminder that death may remain for a time, but it will not be the final word. It was in the silence of that place that I encountered a deep sense of God’s presence, and the promise that death is not the end of the story.

The church today has the benefit of the knowledge of resurrection, and so it is sometimes hard to imagine what this day must have been like for those early disciples who thought they had lost their reason for life and living. But the experience of those disciples are echoed in the pain and trauma of the families in Kenya, and all other families who are grieving the loss of loved ones through senseless death.

We must remain with them. We must enter intentionally into the silence of the dark and wait there with them. Because if we do that, we too will find ourselves rounding the dark bends of life, slowly becoming aware of a presence filling that silence, and being overtaken by surprise and wonder at splashes of colour, beauty, and hope that comes when resurrection makes itself known.

Which dark spaces are you inhabiting today? What experiences of silence?

Keep walking fellow traveller. The light is coming.

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