It’s official. I watched the July 1st fireworks from our balcony the other night, so I know; the summer is here!! Suddenly, everybody gears up to a higher level of internal RPM’s. No one really forgets that ‘end-of-the-school-year’ feeling that as children brought us so much uninhibited joy; the overwhelming liberty of having two massive months ahead to explore. I find that being grown-up hasn’t lessened that blissful sensation one bit.
Halcyon days are chock full of activities. We ruthlessly pack in as much travel, camping, sports, picnicking, family mustering, gardening and anything else we can. Even though summer days are frenetic and fun, I have to admit, the nights are where the real magic is. There’s just something about the sultry dusk, window wide open and a sweet breeze playing soothingly across your body as you waltz into La La Land that cannot be bested. Getting up in the night, I tarry at the window and just drink in the deliciously cool and fragrant atmosphere for a few minutes. Time seems suspended. Even in the city, there’s a particular stillness; an atmospheric quality of humidity that carries the quiet, backyard conversation of people several blocks away.
I remember coming home to the farm one August night in the wee hours after a wedding dance, standing rooted in the driveway, transfixed at a billion stars winking at my youthful exploits. The air was heavy with humidity, and I totally jumped out of my skin when an owl on the light-post hooted loudly, objecting to my presence intruding his solitude. And then there was the time in the heady moments before dawn when I was awoken by the tiniest little lark, perched on the open window sill not two feet from my head. She began to trill a solo so pure and piercing, I didn’t dare breathe, let alone move, for fear of breaking her reverie. These are moments so rarefied they can never be forgotten.
There are mystical, miraculous things seen and heard in the night that simply evanesce with the light. The realm of darkness has its own distinct glory, given from the very beginning.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1:1-3
Darkness itself was good, until it became the hiding place for evil; the sinister lair of a fallen prince. Long before that though, it was the matrix for the creation of souls. David muses on this very revelation in Psalm 139.
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Psalm 139:12-16 NKJV
Given the fact that the human psyche is an iceberg with nine-tenths below the surface, it’s not surprising we have bedrock deposits hidden even from ourselves. When life hands us bleak, unfamiliar passages of the soul, we call it ‘the night seasons’. In these difficult episodes of sustained grief, fear, calamity or change, we are driven across a subliminal, nocturnal landscape of ancient spirits we cannot even name. The only way we can do that, and not be totally overwhelmed with hopeless terror however, is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. He alone knows our path.
In the last few years, I entered an ancient gateway of the feminine journey: menopause. This is a region of darkness and mystery in itself, as every woman’s experience is so vastly different, she’s really on her own. Changing hormonal balances sweep ruthlessly across life and absolutely everything goes just a little bit wonky. My particular bugbear manifested in a complete disruption of slumber. Sleep was a snarled struggle between insomnia, drifting into warped, disturbing dreams. Edema swelled an entire side of my body, waking me sharply when I moved, horrifying me with a body no longer under control. The nighttime became a treacherous, exhausting domain I fought my way across. For two solid years, this intensive microcosm was the crucible of my refining. It was my literal and spiritual night season. I did not enjoy it, but wow, was it illuminating.
Don’t kid yourself; your subconscious is a dense, miry, substrata steeped in the phantoms of the past, the vortex of the generations, darkened mindsets of iniquity, and the power of Sheol itself. In insentient resting, they are felt and heard. It’s not your imagination, this stuff is real (Job 5:12-16, 33:15-29, Songs 5:1-6). But that’s not the whole story. In the night, God also shows Himself strong, a towering protector against our feebleness and fear. In the turbulent warring between our old and new creation identity, He is guardian; a placid escort over tempestuous seas and seasons. He holds our heart as it pours itself out in our dreams. If you listen, you can hear His love song, lilting above the clamor.
What lies within can absolutely astound you. The night seasons reveal this scarifying and mysterious truth. While no one desires dark passages, they are necessary, even salubrious. We enter the deeps of ourselves and face what we find there. It’s a paradox, but when you can finally see the beauty of night seasons in light of the Gospel, the power of death, hell and the devil is truly broken. Somehow, the night, like the wilderness, becomes a friend.
She perceives that her merchandise is good: Her candle goes not out at night. Proverbs 31:18