Waiting On Morning
I don't have any memories of being afraid of the dark as a child. That could be because I wasn't, or simply because I have very few childhood memories at all - those years all locked away for a reason yet to be discovered.
I do remember one year in elementary school - fourth or fifth - when I refused to sleep at my dad's house for almost an entire year. Long after everyone else had gone to sleep I would roam the rooms, convinced the stove had been left on and would burn the house down or that some window was left unlocked and would be the method by which a robber, rapist, or kidnapper would find us all. I would pass the time watching Mr. Ed reruns and infomercials for food dehydrators. I remember a few months into this ordeal my dad coming into my room, sitting at the side of the bed and crying, begging me to tell him how to make me sleep.
I don't know how I eventually slept. But at some point, I suppose I did.
* * *
When we moved to Durham and had our first grown-up house, my fear of the dark returned. On Evan's call nights, I left as many lights on as possible, luring the cats into the bedroom to keep me company into those all too quiet hours. Once we separated and I moved into my own apartment, someone suggested that wine before bed would help make the nights more bearable. They were right, but I still slept on the couch with the lights on.
Even after nearly six years in my home, I still sleep too lightly, check the windows too often, triple check the alarm. There is just something about the dark. The night.
* * *
After my surgery, the darkness of nighttime took a leap from scary and into personal hell. Even with everything they prescribed me, the pain kept me up into the small hours. Once that pain passed, it was the weight of my enormous belly. Now its hot flashes. Through it all there are panic attacks, nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts. My monsters come out in the dark.
I fear I will never know a good night's sleep again.
* * *
Even when the morning comes, a silhouette of the night remains - darkness spread like a shadow over all of the waking hours. I suppose you could say I am living through a nighttime of my life. Its become eerily quiet, things are moving slower, and I feel alone in that isolated way that only the nighttime can bring.
* * *
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.
I keep coming back to the same handful of stories from the Bible these days. The parting of the Red Sea is one of them. God could part the Red Sea but I can't get a month without looking like I'm expecting? It seems to me that if that kind of miracle could be bestowed, that mine shouldn't be too hard to handle.
But here I sit. With a swollen belly. Again.
Earlier this week I flipped my devotional open to that day's reading and found a discussion of this much pondered story. And finally fell upon what I'd been missing all along.
God works through the night until the morning light dawns. You may not see it yet, but through the night of your life, as you trust Him, He works.
Streams in the Desert, p. 208 (emphasis in original).
God didn't part the Red Sea as Moses stood there. He parted the waters all that night. When the Israelites awoke the next morning - after night had passed - God's miracle was revealed. They could only walk across the dry land He created after the night had passed.
They had to be patient and wait until dawn.
* * *
I lie here most mornings, waiting for the dawn to come. With the shades drawn and the doors closed its hard to tell most times. Even with our iPhones giving us the precise moment when dawn is to occur, in many ways it hard to know when that exact moment has arrived. That moment when night has magically become morning. That moment when the monsters are gone, we can see clearly, morning has come.
I am lying in my yard on a blow-up mattress waiting for Friday to become Friday night, which is how I know people are wrong when they say, "It's as clear as the difference between night and day." That might be true at noon or midnight, but here at the liquid edge between day and night, the difference is so unclear that there are many words for it: sundown, twilight, nightfall, dusk.
(Taylor, Barbara Brown, Learning To Walk In The Dark, 19.)
I am living on the opposite liquid edge tonight. Tomorrow morning I will learn the results of my CT scan - the test that will let us know if we are on the right track. I have felt it already - my heart preparing to welcome dawn if everything looks good, preparing to fall back into the darkness of night if things don't look as we hope. Tonight I am perilously balanced on the edge between night and day, with the ability to easily fall to either side.
The night has been very dark. And I have felt God working all that night.
It is time now for morning to come.