Barbara Brown Taylor’s book on darkness invites united state to lean into the spaces without light, come sit and be quiet, to endure the visibility of God.

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link to writer Gretchen E. Ziegenhals

This summer a young girlfriend of our is walking to spend her nights in caves anywhere the Midwest researching bats. If the grant paying because that her research is a worthwhile venture, if i were her i would much rather spend my summer scooping ice cream cream in the sunshine. She is excited come begin, but my own few occasions in caves to be on field trips with fifth grade children. Those adventures left me claustrophobic and also not passionate to trade in my desk job to become a spelunker!

But professor of religion Barbara Brown Taylor agrees through my young friend. Taylor has made a examine of darkness in her new book “Learning come Walk in the Dark.” and in she chapter “Entering the Stone,” Taylor tells us there is much to learn from the complete and also utter darkness of a cave.

“Midway through my research of darkness,” she writes, “a brand-new friend readily available to take it me right into a cave.” While it is clear why bears, bats and also frogs pertained to caves, she notes, why do humans come? “We involved see what is here and also to uncover who we space in the existence of what we find.”

She describes in information preparing for her expedition to Organ cave in West Virginia, analysis up ~ above the phenomenon the “cave terror,” the approaches for “belly-squirm” v tight places, and also packing three sources of light, extra water, and also a caving suit and also knee pads. She prepares herself for “duck-unders” and “sumps” -- a passage entirely filled with water but no air, inquiry the caver to host her breath and swim v the passage.

Once within the belly of the caves, Taylor methods sitting in total darkness and also silence. She moves to assorted chambers with her guides, and also then experiences the smells, temperatures and certain silence that mark the cave. She learns come sit in the dark there is no viewing darkness as something to be feared, however rather together a full component of human being experience.

She note the an excellent spiritual leader -- Buddha, Muhammad and also Jesus -- because that whom caves were central. “Sitting deep in the heart of body organ Cave,” she writes, “I let this sink in: brand-new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a particle in the ground, a infant in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”

In a dark cave, we can be alone without whatever that distracts us in the light, come hear what God needs to say. Even if, like Mrs. Moore in E.M. Forester’s novel “A passage to India,” what we hear is “nothing” and what we find out is our own insignificance in the universe.

Taylor discovers the our enduring comes as soon as we stand up to the darkness -- ours fears and also times of sore or pain, as well as the darkness of ours backyard in the night or a cave. As soon as we stand up to darkness, us assume that it is evil or to be feared. But in the belly of the whale, she reminds us, Jonah learn obedience; in his blindness, Paul hears his call; in the darkness of night, God components the Red Sea.

The special darkness the God, “araphel,” consists of the presence of God.

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What can the darkness need to teach us? “The method out is the means in,” Taylor advises us. The only way to discover what we might learn native walking in the dark is to head deeper right into the cave and sit.