Before the canvas of the world was painted, the earth posed black, void, formless.
Intentionally kept dark for creation, for becoming, purpose was published from shadows, from an ink blanket of berth. This was good, part of the order of things.
I allow the same for my soul. Sit in the unshapen, breathless; being. No push to rush away the restless, the flush of alone and feeling of being lost in charcoal soil. I am welcomed in ways I would never experience had I not ventured into hovering waters, deep and endless and uncolored. I have grappled with this way of being, hearing society slap me with a quick, contented fix that inadvertently accuses my faith. Light versus dark. Skin versus spirit. Righteousness versus sin. As if where one side existed, the other couldn’t.
I have not been born to carry continuous happy bubbled within my chest. My burden is my blessing in the underbelly of life, where my tears find themselves falling down the skin of someone else, where my anchored heart magnetizes with the weight of theirs. Where I am constantly standing in line with the loose rise of moon, face deeply creviced and reflecting light in imitation.
Under the earth is dark space anyway, but I delve into the black, attempts to feel my way to fine.
I have always been more comfortable in shadows than daylight. And I had buried this in shame, thinking something must be off in me that I sink into melancholy more than most. I’d think that if joy didn’t shine from my countenance, then I wasn’t truly experiencing God’s goodness.
Deeper I sank into wondering what was wrong with the way I was wired, wracking my brain to find a solution to solve the unsettled. Attend church, find people to live life with, keep praying even when these spheres didn’t orbit well around my faith. I attempted to jam them together with surface chatter, always the smile and the “life is good but busy” bit. If trouble came and I let a few in to see the struggle of my heart, they would point to sin and tell me to stick with Jesus. Because Lord knows, on my own I can create endless mess of what I meant to tame.
Like I haven’t been faithful enough when the pain doesn’t go away. They tell me, if I just love God a little more, I will be overwhelmed in God's delight. If I see God as Shepherd watching over me, guiding me to good, I can enter green pastures.
Yes, God is beautiful. But God does not simply watch from a distance the weight of life, the hammering of souls and breaking of the delicate spaces. To be seen in shadow is to still be seen and met where safety is sought. Those murky places are where we can explore our becoming, the evolution inside that churns new every day, when the clock chimes midnight in the middle of that deep lack of light.
God is not simply the sun that ignites the world; God is black ink of galaxies that make the sun’s light give form to apparition. But without the veil, mystery mutes and wonder erases. Where would the fun of exploration be? Envisioning new shapes, hidden curves, taste and touch and sound when lack of sight heightens other senses?
It is heart exhaustion straining to be good when all I want is to cut my cords of trying and fall into ever-expanding constellations of grace. I cannot see what others expect me to. Cannot feel the way they want. I live out in the open and refuse to come back inside. Hazy landscape in me, still forming. But life forms anew each hour, each minute, each millisecond. I can stop trying to find answers and let the beyond swallow my heart in upside-down mystery. Embrace this unknown. Trust the God who shot to the depths and enfolded himself in the tomb of darkness and did not dance around the grime.
I do not shy away. Not from the way my heart is made, the hurt I hold for others, how the glass lowers its volume but never drains. Not from the skin that sheds itself according to the wind. The wind that blows where it pleases, when it wants. Wind that cannot be seen, but says enough with what it leaves behind, ruffles through the flesh of us, across earth. According to divine creation, there is pause, quiet, unwind from action. There is unseen order even when all is unclear and I am quietly breathing in the eye of the storm, brief wake of silence that punctuates a beauty in the unspoken, silent repose.
Sarah Rennicke writes at the intersection of beauty and the everyday while grappling with God's goodness when life projects otherwise. She is a member of Redbud Writers Guild, writes for nonprofit organizations, and enjoys her simple Midwest life in Wisconsin. Her website is www.sarahrennicke.com.
Did you miss Issue No. 54's Readers' Notes?
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