Treasures of Darkness

by Becky Valentine, M.A.

Take a moment to think about a seed. What comes to mind? Maybe you think of how it symbolizes the birth of a great idea. You may have a memory of a toothpick-pierced avocado pit sprouting from a cup in your kitchen window. The parable of the mustard seed may pop into your mind. Or, if you just ate a poppy-seed bagel, there is a good chance you are wondering if you successfully sucked all the tiny black specks out of your teeth.

All these seeds have something in common. Each holds the promise of life. And though not all seeds must be buried in soil in order to sprout, most require the dark embrace of a hidden place for life to take root and grow.

In his book, A Timbered Choir, The Sabbath Poems, poet and author Wendell Berry writes:

          The seed is in the ground.

          Now may we rest in hope

          While darkness does its work.

I love this little verse. I think it is my favorite in this whole collection because it so beautifully describes a part of the growth process that most of us desperately try to avoid—seasons of darkness.

We like to see where we are going. We like to know what’s going on. We really like the illusion of being in control. We tend to equate darkness with evil. And beside all that, we are terribly uncomfortable with waiting – especially when we are suffering, confused or afraid.

And yet God asks us to rest in hope, to rest in Him at all times including the times when our vision is obscured. When we do, we can actually welcome the Mystery knowing that God does some of his best work in the dark.

It’s true, you know. God really does do some of his best work in the dark. In Genesis we learn that God created the endless universe from “beneath the hovering darkness.” Pearls are shaped while hidden from light. A chrysalis conceals a squirmy caterpillar as it transforms and is reborn as a completely different creature. A child is conceived and grows within a mother’s womb and waits in darkness to be fully formed.

And then there is the tomb.

So how do we “rest in hope while darkness does its work?” Followers of God have wrestled with this question throughout the ages. There is no easy answer. I certainly don’t have the answer. But that is one reason for why I am drawn to the lines above by Wendell Berry. When the apostle Paul assures us that God will be faithful to complete the good work he has begun in our hearts (Philippians 1:6), I believe one of the things he longs for us to understand is that we have LIFE within us—the Seed, who is Christ in us. It is in Christ that we find rest and hope knowing that God cannot only see when we cannot (Psalm 139:11-12), but that at times his transformative work actually requires darkness.

When we are buried in the depths of our sorrow, anger, confusion or just plain uncertainty, he invites us to look inward with hope and certainty that his Seed is in our hearts. Life will return. His resurrection power is at work—especially in the dark.

Categories Article | Tags: | Posted on December 4, 2012

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