October 2, 2014

Darkness Darkness (The Darkness Of Heaven)

I love fall the best. The World Series. Football. Apples. Falling leaves. Crisp air.

Then there is the darkness.

I hate the darkness.

Last week we turned our clocks back, bringing us nighttime a lot sooner. Where I live in the midwest, we are now in complete darkness by 5:30 p.m. For those of us who suffer from depression, darkness is not welcome. And as I work evenings, it can be even harder. My store is well-lit, but we also have a lot of windows that let in the dark. And there are days that darkness wants to crush me.

There once was a day when, at noon, the skies became black as night, and stayed that way for about three hours. It was on that day three convicted thieves died together. It is said that tombs split open and the dead came to life on that day. Some say the darkness was hell spilling out into our world. I think not. I think hell is filled with light and life and laughter. It is only in heaven that darkness that severe could block out this world’s light.

Darkness overshadowed our nation at one time to the point where many wondered if we would be able to survive. Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods only had one big-time hit, Get Together. (“C’mon people now/Smile on your brother/Ev’rybody get together/Try and love one another right now”) But they did a song that was an anthem for a nation cast into darkness by war and poverty and political mistrust in the 1960s.

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow,
Take my hand, and let me sleep.
In the coolness of your shadow,
In the silence, the silence of your deep.
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket,
Cover me with the endless night,
Take away, take away the pain of knowing
Fill the emptiness of right now,
Emptiness of right now now now
Emptiness of right now.

That is my anthem right now.

You can tell me all of the platitudes you like. It’s darkest just before the dawn. Don’t curse the darkness–light a candle instead. The darkness can’t extinguish the light. And I would say … well, I am not going to write what I would say. None of that helps when the darkness has closed in like the grave.

Yes, Jesus is The Light. But he’s not a light like I have next to me now, one I can turn on and off at my pleasure. He has no switch, no cord to plug in. He doesn’t take AA batteries. Jesus is The Light just as he is the Creator of Darkness. And somehow, in some way, God sees darkness as good. He made them both. Somehow we have gotten the idea that Heaven is only light and that darkness is inherently evil. Half of every twenty four hours is lived in the dark. Does that mean God closes his eyes to half of our life? Does he only exist in the daylight?

I can cry out to be delivered from the dark—and I have, and I do, and I am. This is not a place where I want to remain. I know springtime cometh, and the daylight will then begin to grow longer. I hold out hope that my money problems and health problems and family problems will grow shorter and the day will bring answers to all of these. And yet.

And yet I am in darkness now. To be honest, I’m very glad I don’t drink. If I did, I would be adding another layer of darkness to my life.

Music helps. But not songs by those who have never known darkness. As I write this I have been listening to Eric Clapton and Leonard Cohen, both of whom know darkness intimately. Because of this their songs—unlike those by happy-clappy musicians—somehow make the darkness a little less imposing.

Food helps some. I sent a text to a friend today to tell him he was the winner of the “I Get To Take Jeff To Lunch” contest. We met at Five Guys and ate some very unhealthy food. We laughed and he shared about a missions trip he was on this summer.

Writing helps. Maybe you will skip this and go back and re-read last week’s Saturday Ramblings. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. I don’t know if anyone will read this, but as an artist it helps to just create.

Friends … well, most would try to flood the room with light, and that’s not what I need right now. I think the longer I spend in darkness, the fewer friends I want. Most don’t understand, most are afraid of the darkness, so they loudly try to create light. There are one or two who know just what to do. They will sit with me, patiently waiting with me. They don’t talk much, they don’t try to explain away the darkness. They are just there, and even if I can’t see them, I know they are there. They know to text just a word or two, and seem to know just when to do it. Those two or three friends who can help me in my times of darkness have lived through their own black periods. Or are in them still.

The Bible helps. In times of darkness I seek out stories of those who lived in darkness themselves. I read about Elijah who, after the great miracle on the mountaintop, went off into the desert and wanted to die. Right there with you, bro. And I like how that God did not rebuke his darkness, nor tell him to buck up and light a candle. It seems to me that Elijah was foreshadowing Jesus who, after the miracle on the mountain, did go off to die. And that brings us back to our three hours of darkness in the middle of the day.

The Psalms are full of darkness. Don’t bother reading them if you think following Jesus will only lead to sunny, cloudless days.  I don’t mean to be Debby Downer, and I’m sorry if you were coming here today hoping to read a few jokes and be told what a great person you are and how if you just do all the right things you will have a life of peaches and cupcakes. But if you are in darkness yourself, you know that no amount of self-talk, no amount of doing all the right things will keep the darkness at bay. I have done all the right things. I have also done a lot of wrong things. But having sunshine pumped up my arse only irritates me and makes me want to do more wrong things, especially to the one doing the pumping.

I guess if I have one thing to say, it’s this: Be real, and be willing to let those who are hurting be real. Don’t ask stupid questions. Don’t point fingers or offer homemade remedies. Just be. Be there. Be quiet. Be willing. I guarandamntee you that, if you are actually living a real life, not some fake, plastic-Jesus-on-my-dashboard life, you will live in darkness at some point as well. Come sit with me and get used to it.

“This is just a season,” you say, “just as fall is just a season.” I hope so. I hope I experience winter and spring and summer really soon. But what if it is fall with its early nighttime for the rest of my life? Can I be ok with that?

King David offers me the most comforting words of all.

Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,” You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes. (Psalm 139: 11, 12, The Voice)

God sees me in the dark. Even in complete darkness, he can see me. Somehow, in some way, darkness comes from his throne just as light does. He is not afraid in the dark. And so, perhaps, I won’t be either.

I love fall the best. Outdoor fires. Roasted root vegetables. Apple cider. Thanksgiving. And darkness.

Comments

  1. br. thomas says:

    I am reminded of a the lyrics of a favorite worship song recorded by JMT:

    “Holy darkness, blessed night.
    Heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
    As we await You, O God of silence,
    we embrace Your holy night.

    I have tried you in fires of affliction;
    I have taught your soul to grieve.
    In the barren soil of your loneliness,
    there I will plant my seed.

    In your deepest hour of darkness
    I will give you wealth untold.
    When the silence stills your spirit,
    will my riches fill your soul

    Holy darkness, blessed night.
    Heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
    As we await You, O God of silence,
    we embrace Your holy night.”

    • When I first heard this song by JMT, it puzzled me…after all, Jesus is light and life, but as I probed the depth of the words, I understood what the writer was trying to say, I would imagine you can understand them much better than me, Jeff – praying for you.

  2. petrushka1611 says:

    A few years ago, when I was in more darkness than ever before, a friend posted an Oswald Chambers quote that I found very comforting (and I don’t usually find OC comforting)…something like “it says in Psalms that around God are clouds and thick darkness. The darker it gets, the closer you may be to God.”

  3. Jeff, thank you for being open and honest.

  4. Jeff, I pray that you never lose your way in the darkness. I know I stumble and fall in the darkness a lot myself. (I do get up, but the muscles just don’t recover like they used to.) I like that part of Psalm 139 that you included: “Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.”

  5. Jeff, I can completely relate. I am housebound much of the time because of chronic illness. I receive comfort only from those who are walking the same road. The “happy-clappy- God is going to heal you” crowd, do nothing for me (even though they mean well). I know God is here in the darkness with us & he our anchor. This is one of the reasons why I love it here at iMonk…you & Chaplain Mike are real!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The “happy-clappy- God is going to heal you” crowd, do nothing for me (even though they mean well).

      Don’t forget the “Five Fast Praise-the-LOORDs Will Fix Everything!” and “Ten Minutes In The WORD Each Morning!” Those got used on me way-back-when I was the ONLY Christian in the entire cosmos with problems.

    • Some may mean well, but many don’t. Many see religion as a path to glory for themselves, which is exactly wrong.

  6. I guess I’m not sending the K-LOVE reindeer sweater after all….. thanks for a very honest post.

  7. Oh how I gobbled up these words! Even quoted you on facebook – thank you for this!

    I remember the fall and winter of 2007 into 2008 – $hit had really hit the fan in my life and I had this moment of anticipation that the coming spring on earth would usher in a spring in my life as well. I was giddy with anticipation. It didn’t happen. I have had moments of “springs” since then, but for the most part I’ve climbed the tree too and found that I’m not really liking the view. The thing that helps me is knowing (even if it’s a shallow knowing) that I’m not alone. And that others like me exist – though they are few and far between. Jeff, I just love you brother! And being real in the darkness is grace upon grace in my book!

  8. Joseph (the original) says:

    {sigh}…

  9. David Hartman says:

    There is nothing I can say that you have not heard already except I will sit in the dark with you in silence.

  10. Jeff can I give you a hug? :-)

  11. David Cornwell says:

    When I was 9 years old my family moved to a beautiful place on a hill partially overlooking the Ohio River. We lived there until I was about 22 years of age, so I have lots of memories. Many of them were very good. However for several of those early years many nights became a nightmare for me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and see bright red/orange flashes many miles down the river. The entire sky would gradually light up, then slowly fade away. This would continue for some time, or so it seemed to me. I was terrorized. I thought the world was coming to an end, and God would find me wanting. It fit the apocalyptic image of what I thought end would be like.

    I was afraid to question my parents about this. I didn’t want anyone to know my fear. Each night of looking terrorized me, yet could not take my eyes away. I never really learned to cope with these terrible sights. I’d sometimes turn over in the bed and look deeply into the darkness of the room. Or cover my head with blankets. Eventually I’d fall back into sleep.

    Yet, each morning daylight would return. My mother would fix breakfast before school. She was still there. The house was standing. My father would drink his coffee, read a paper if he had one, and go to work again. I’d go out to catch a bus for school same as always All of this reassured me that at least for now all was well.

    In a few years I figured out what was going on. Down the river were some large fertilizer and chemical plants. Something in their processes were designed to scare the hell out of children! But when I was still a child I could not comprehend the truth.

    This probably isn’t a help, because each of us must face our own darkness. Yet, once again, the light will shine.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      However for several of those early years many nights became a nightmare for me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and see bright red/orange flashes many miles down the river. The entire sky would gradually light up, then slowly fade away. This would continue for some time, or so it seemed to me. I was terrorized. I thought the world was coming to an end, and God would find me wanting.

      Where I was, the fear was Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War. If I’d seen that, the first few times I would have interpreted it as a nuke explosion. And with the ascendancy of Hal Lindsay and “Christians for Nuclear War”, Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War even figured heavily in our local End Time Prophecy freakouts. (“It’s Prophesied! It’s Prophesied!”)

      But then, I used to freak out easily. Like at anything that sounded like a siren in the distance or the Conelrad tests on the TV stations. (This was the Cold War; “Emergency Announcement” defaulted to “Incoming Nukes”.) And the first time I saw a Godzilla movie (the 1956 original, American-release cut), for years afterward I used to freak out at any rhythmic thudding in the distance (like the big guy’s footfalls). And since I lived near a sand-and-gravel quarry, there was a LOT of rhythmic thumping from their operations.

      In a few years I figured out what was going on. Down the river were some large fertilizer and chemical plants. Something in their processes were designed to scare the hell out of children!

      Probably “flaring”, i.e. burning off flammable gas buildups from whatever they were processing.

      • HUG- I was totally terrified by all the Protect & Survive type films they showed us at school. One night there was a big bang outside, I wrenched the curtain back expecting to see the mushroom cloud…it was thunder. Apparently being both smart & sensitive in a kid is not a brilliant combination for this kind of thing, I’m sure you understand.

        But as to the dark…spiritually all the lights went out for me when during my Mother’s dying of cancer I became obsessed with calvinism. I fear they will only ever come back on the day I can disprove limited atonement & double predestination to my complete satisfaction. It’ll be 2 years net week :(

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Apparently being both smart & sensitive in a kid is not a brilliant combination for this kind of thing, I’m sure you understand.

          Some time ago at Rachel Held Evans’ blog, she had a guest post about “Embracing Faith with Aspergers” which reported a similar anxiety about the End of the World in general — reading “THIS IS IT!” into any anomalous event, accompanied by elaborate runaway-imagination worst-case mental images running on a intensifying loop. I have long suspected I’m a borderline Aspie, and the description was just like what I experienced.

          (The mass-media fictional example that best describes what this is like is the early-to-middle stages of Twilight Sparkle’s breakdown in the “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” Season 2 Episode “Lesson Zero”. An older example is some of the imagination sequences in the Eighties Nickelodeon show “Doug”.)

  12. I am in the same boat. After the leaves all fall down, and darkness comes, I fall down into a place that (my) words cannot describe. The only thing is: this is nothing new. One of the hardest things about being in this place is I cannot find God. My heart seems frozen as if in a tomb. I sure like this verse in Proverbs: “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
    I have one friend who sits with me, she accepts my depression, she doesn’t talk too much or try to talk me through it or out of it, I am blessed to have her in my life. Thanks Jeff.

    • Gail, you state that you canot find God in the place you are in. You don’t even need to expend any energy looking for Him in your darkness as He has found you and will not let you go, regardless of whether you may see Him or feel Him in the darkness. He is there whether we feel it or not, because He said so. When in the dark, it doesn’t help to hear platitudes, but I hope I don’t sound like one of Job’s friends.

      • Wout,

        Your response triggered only tears, the soft kind, Thank-You! Didn’t hit me like a platitude at all… Thank-You.

  13. Jeff,

    I would recommend the Bruce Cockburn album “Humans” for listening. It was written as his marriage was breaking up and represents some songs from a darker period, some with the element hope coming through as well. His next album “Inner city Front” has some similar themes as the first, though not as dark. This song from “Inner City Front” was a comfort to me when I was going through a dark time, as it helped me realize that I wasn’t alone in it.

    The strong one

    Isn’t it hard
    To be the one who has to give advice?
    Isn’t it hard
    To be the strong one?

    I see the skyline blurred through the plastic on your back screen door
    Not unlike the faces of the people who keep turning up in the places we go
    The ones we’d never see if things weren’t going so well
    When I was a torn jacket hanging on the barbed wire
    You cut me free
    And sewed me up and here I am

    Isn’t it hard
    To be the one whose phone rings all day everyday?
    Isn’t it hard
    To be the strong one?

    Mouths move without vision — without regard for consequences
    Eyes fill with memories poisoned by intimate knowledge of failure to love
    Sometimes, sometimes, doesn’t the light seem to move so far away?
    You help your sisters, you help your old lovers,
    you help me but who do you cry to?

    ‘Cause isn’t it hard
    To be the one who gathers everybody’s tears?
    Isn’t it hard
    To be the strong one?

  14. Jeff,

    My darkness is a different kind of darkness, but I see some similarities. I am drawn to dark music and dark songs to a large degree, although I like upbeat music, too.

    One strange thing that happens is people’s reaction to my favorite color: black. It’s just a color like any other (or is it? Bwahahah!), but when people ask what my favorite color is, they are sometimes shocked by the answer. I’ve even had a few who made analogies with spiritual standing before God. I’m not sure my favorite color has any relationship with the type of darkness that I experience, but if it does, then maybe I know why. I must admit black looks great with orange (my World Series champion Giants), and silver (my way too far in the past Superbowl champion Oakland Raiders).

    • Steve,

      I have been listening to a lot of songs for the darkness today. Try the Vigilantes of Love’s “Drunk On The Tears.” The words, “I used to be someone/now I’m not worth a shit” may not qualify it as a typical Christian song, and for that I am very glad. It is a song God is using to touch a hidden and dark part of me.

      Rich Mullins is very good at a time like this as well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My darkness is a different kind of darkness, but I see some similarities. I am drawn to dark music and dark songs to a large degree, although I like upbeat music, too.

      One strange thing that happens is people’s reaction to my favorite color: black. It’s just a color like any other (or is it? Bwahahah!), but when people ask what my favorite color is, they are sometimes shocked by the answer.

      Though you look older than me (and that’s saying something), have you ever taken a look at the Goth scene?

      There even used to be a few sites for Christian Goths out there. Like Gothic Christianity and Christian Goth itself.

  15. I used to be among the “happy clappy” crowd. I’m not any more. I was grateful to find this site. But for the life of me I cannot see how this post is helpful to anyone, Jeff, especially to you yourself (except for the excerpt from Psalm 139).

    Do you hear yourself?

    ” It was on that day three convicted thieves died together.” Wha-a-a-t??? Jesus was a convicted thief? What was it exactly that He stole?

    “I think hell is filled with light and life and laughter.” No way! Are you serious?

    I could go on, but I won’t. Maybe when you come into the Light again, or when the Light comes into you might be a better way of putting it — and I don’t mean that as a criticism, I truly don’t — you will delete this post.

    I’m extremely disappointed in this website today.

    But I will just shut up and sit there in the dark with you too.

    • What did Jesus steal? He stole power from the Pharisees, for one. And that is why they crucified him. But more than that, he stole our hearts from the enemy.

      Hell is filled with light and life and laughter. It is not real light, not real life, and the laughter is that of someone trying to cover over his fear. But it is there nonetheless.

      I will not be deleting anything in this post. Why should I cover over what is very real? Is God afraid of my very real hurt and pain?

      I received an email in the middle of the night from a person who is a missionary in a country where if he/she were discovered, death would follow. This person shared how that he/she is sitting in a very dark place in his/her heart right now, and has been there for several years now. And how my story was encouraging. Is this what you want me to delete?

      And I do thank you for sitting with me in my darkness. I really do.

      • Jeff, I meant to say that I will also happily sit with you in your darkness. Internet Monk has helped me in mine. You have an open invitation to my sofa & a sleeping bag. Big love to you.

        Did I mention I hate autumn & have a light box?

        • That Other Jean says:

          I’m with you there. If it weren’t for my light box, I’d be depressed from November to April, just like I used to be.

          Jeff, it’s worth thinking about. A light box may not help a dark night of the soul, but it’s useful for nights that start at 5:30 in the afternoon and days of endless clouds and rain and snow..

    • Stole the rightful allegiance of the people from Caesar, or was attempting to – at least, that was the argument used to convince Pilate that he should pass sentence and execute this criminal.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “I think hell is filled with light and life and laughter.” No way! Are you serious?

      “Hell has no torment worse than Constant Forced Cheerfulness.”
      — G.K.Chesterton, “Three Tools of Death” (a Father Brown Mystery)

  16. Jeff ~depression and darkness have become companions in my life now. I have a chronic illness with claustrophobic limitations. I used to fight like crazy against the darkness partly because I thought I was supposed to! I couldn’t let anyone see that I was not walking in victory. Finally I got real. Thanks to you and Chaplain Mike and a praying physician and a few honest friends who shared their story with me. Now I learn from it, through it. I recognize it in others. I just gently remind you that your physical health hasn’t been great and you have been working incredibly hard with your retail hours and other battles we know nothing about. We are human and we have limits. Be very merciful, gentle and kind with yourself. And as much as possible in your life circumstances, rest. My physician and my counselor, both of whom suffer from depression themselves, told me wisely that often depression is our brain saying, “I have to rest now” so it sort of goes into a hibernation mode and since we are used to a top speed mode we panic and start fighting. And like quick sand that just pulls us in deeper.

  17. Gail McNeeley says:

    Jeff, “Come to the dark side. We have cookies!” Do Rich and I need to come over there and sit with you? We could use a trip out of Dodge, anyway. This is an interesting post. I see dark differently now. I have been depressed many times, but not to this extent. I’ve never wanted to embrace physical darkness but the other day was thinking I’d better conquer my “I Hate Winter” fear by facing the dark truth; that Jesus is with me no matter where I am. Hugs to you.

  18. Jeff,

    Thank you for sharing from your pain.

    Darkness is tough. I’ve lived there too.

    No platitudes. No sermons. No easy answers.

    Just kinship, in the human condition, from a brother riding on the night train with you.

    May the comfort of God’s presence be real to you this night as your journey continues through the darkness.

    Marv

  19. Its funny/strange these days when those dark places are not only familiar but in some strange way a resting place. Maybe realising for me that these places are not devoid of God, just different to what espoused as ‘the places God inhabits’ blah blah. They’re still not always comfortable – just less scary

    Yours in the dark places

  20. My heart goes out to you- I can’t think of anything profound to say and I don’t want to be cliche- so I’ll leave it at that.

    I did have a question- either for Jeff, or anyone of the commenters….i grew up extremely churched…in a fundamentalist baptist church to be exact. i’m in my late 20s….i’ve spent the last few years kind of trying to re-learn God, and come to a place where faith brings grace and life rather than just tremendous pain. i’ve come a long way from my days in fundamentalism…….i’ve had my own set of circumstances in the last few years that have just been harder- i’m sure not suffering to the level that some endure- but some hard things for sure. as much as i wish i could say that the hard times have pushed me closer to God- if I’m being honest- sometimes I feel like I’m just left with a lot of pain and no real resolution- and I get mad at God. Or I guess I just doubt Him- and i wonder what the point of having faith is. I know this probably sounds extremely terrible- but what I would wonder is this- I think one of the catechisms in the Westminster confession states that are chief end is to enjoy God- I’m paraphrasing I suppose- but I wonder, do you enjoy God? In spite of your dark seasons it doesn’t make you question your faith? How do you hang onto God in the midst of the darkness and continue to believe in His goodness? If anyone has any thoughts, I would love to hear them.

    • Julie, your story resonates with my own! If you are interested you can click on my name to take you to my blog and find my e-mail address on the “about” page. Would love to chat!

    • Julie,

      Coming from my point of view you don’t sound extreme. You sound honest & real to me. I have more questions than answers so I cannot address what you ask.
      I once heard that the soil we grow in is the soil of doubt & struggle. That is my hope.

      • Julie,

        Rebekah is a down to earth gal, she reached out to me here on I.M. and is sincere & real.
        I too would talk with you more in depth if you desire, you can contact me at gm370@yahoo.com.

    • Julie ~ we are reading “Glorious Ruin” by Tullian Tchividjian in the IMonk Book Club. He addresses many of the issues you have brought up. I recommend it to you.

  21. Autumn is my favorite season, but the shortening days is not a highlight.
    I’m not sure the opposite of darkness is light. The night is never completely black – especially under that giant harvest moon last week. It’s the morbid evangelical thinking that forces us to concede to a world which either all dark or all light; it makes us feel trapped in a dark prison rather than free in a world of infinite shades, reflections, streetlights, stars, moonlight, and earthshine.

  22. Nothing’s what you thought it would be

    “All of us get lost in the darkness
    Dreamers learn to steer by the stars
    All of us do time in the gutter
    Dreamers turn to look at the cars
    turn around and turn around and turn around
    Turn around and walk the razor’s edge
    Don’t turn your back
    And slam the door on me.” – Neil Peart, from “The Pass”

  23. This, I understand:
    “Music helps.
    But not songs by those
    who have never known darkness.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUeymJ6JJno&feature=related

  24. I never comment, but the verses you shared from Psalm 139 are the most important in my life. The worst thing in my darkest places was the belief that God could not/would not see me there- that I would die alone in the dark. The day I actually heard that psalm “fixed” nothing, yet it made all the difference. I am never alone.

  25. Pretty much all the songs on Leonard Cohen’s “Ten Songs” from 2001, but particularly “By the Rivers Dark”:

    By the rivers dark
    I wandered on.
    I lived my life
    In Babylon.

    And I did forget
    My holy song:
    And I had no strength
    In Babylon.

    By the rivers dark
    Where I could not see
    Who was waiting there
    Who was hunting me.

    And he cut my lip
    And he cut my heart.
    So I could not drink
    From the river dark.

    And he covered me,
    And I saw within,
    My lawless heart
    And my wedding ring,

    I did not know
    And I could not see
    Who was waiting there,
    Who was hunting me.

    By the rivers dark
    I panicked on.
    I belonged at last
    To Babylon.

    Then he struck my heart
    With a deadly force,
    And he said, ‘This heart:
    It is not yours.’

    And he gave the wind
    My wedding ring;
    And he circled us
    With everything.

    By the rivers dark,
    In a wounded dawn,
    I live my life
    In Babylon.

    Though I take my song
    From a withered limb,
    Both song and tree,
    They sing for him.

    Be the truth unsaid
    And the blessing gone,
    If I forget
    My Babylon.

    I did not know
    And I could not see
    Who was waiting there,
    Who was hunting me.

    By the rivers dark,
    Where it all goes on;
    By the rivers dark
    In Babylon.

  26. I hope you felt less darkness tonite as I did even for just a little while.

  27. Jeff… Have you given any thought to Seasonal Affective Disorder – that you might be experiencing it?

    I’m in my 50s and have likely had SAD for my entire life, but in recent years, it became more intense and crushing. Finally, on the recommendation of a kind counselor, I got a good light box.

    I can’t even begin to tell you the difference that using the light box has made. I hesitated for years and years due to the price of a truly good box, but I think mine paid itself off within the 1st 3 days of use.

    The shift from daylight savings time to standard time is still very hard for me, as are the too-short winter days. But most of the depression I used to go through is lifted by daily light therapy.

    I offer this suggestion not because I want to get all evangelistic about SAD and light therapy, but simply because… it might really help you (and others).

    Winter depression isn’t inevitable, and if/when it persists, it’s very much worth checking into means of relieving it. Although light boxes don’t work for everyone, I think it’s hard to put a price on relief.

    Hoping you feel much better very soon…

  28. Jeff Dunn asks : “…..but what if it is fall with its early nighttime for the rest of my life? Could I be okay with that?”

    THAT is exactly where I have been for the last six years.
    It is very unlikely to change and I have stopped struggeling to change it.
    I am okay with it in the sense of accepting it as fact, but not okay with it in the sense of liking it.
    It is the season of winter and darkness in [the rest of] my mortal life, and I often wonder why Creator Jesus hasn`t taken me home yet……..

    Beauty, and strangely, pain, have always touched me more deeply than anything else.
    Yes, I do rejoyce in spite of pain and darkness in Creator`s beauty and the beauty of his creation all around me.
    Pain, suffering and loss in my life teach me mercy and compassion for others, especially those who are marginalized, shunted aside, despised, hated and treated with cruelty and vindictiveness.