January 26, 2009


"Edgar Allen Poe had it In his tell tale heart
It’s the finest time to strike
Said Napolean Bonaparte
Inmates make their break
into it Cavemen make their art
Spy planes fly and
spelunkers hunker
Somewhere in the dark

"Batman catches criminals in the dark of night
Saving Gotham City from evil designs
Darkness, lovers love in and
Dreamers tend to like
And if you think you’re neither one
Well, in the dark, that’s just what
You might become

"Some celestial bodies like to
Strut their stuff a lot
But we know Mr. Black Hole is the Big boy on the block
King Tut looked pretty comfy
In that old dark tomb
What’s good for an Egyptian mummy
Might be right for you

"What’s the fun relying on something you can see?
That’s just so passe when you run toward the light
Why not make a dangerous tryst with mystery?
It’s a downright frightening hole
Watch your head
Down you go

"Larry lost his inhibitions
Sally felt a spark
Jacob saw a mystic vision
Somewhere in the dark

"Black cats eke out a descent living
Monsters make it far
You might find what you’ve been missing
Somewhere in
The Dark "
- lyrics, "The Dark" by Peter Mayer

"On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

"In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

"In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

"This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.

"Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

"Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

"The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

"I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies."
- "The Dark Night of the Soul," St. John of the Cross

Sometimes I'm afraid of the dark. It's not the monsters under the bed. It's not the threat of burglars. It's nothing, and it's everything.

I can lie in bed at night and squirm as nameless demons crawl out and roam around my brain, scaring sleep away.

I pray. I want it to help immediately. I want to be flooded with peace and joy and relief, so I can drift off to sweet dreamland. But it doesn't work that way. Not for me, not most of the time anyway.

I've heard people call insomnia "God's night school." Someone even wrote a book. What's He trying to teach me? I'd like here to impart some lofty words of wisdom. I'd like Peter Mayer's sly spirit of adventure and mystery, St. John's mystical enlightenment. Instead, I am left with dark circles under my eyes and more questions than answers.

God meets us, meets me, in the dark, that is certain: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5, RSV).

A light is meaningless when it shines at noon. But when it shines in the dark... It has famously been said, "It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness." Be Thou my candle, O Lord.

* Fear of dark or night

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