Hello Little Beautiful.
About two weeks ago, you crept back down the stairs an hour after I had tucked you in. I was sitting in my Adirondack rocker out on the back porch, and you crawled right up into my lap. You just pushed in under my little blanket and curled up around my cup of tea as if it were the most natural thing. I think you didn’t want me to send you back to bed, so you were completely quiet and just watched the night with me.
You’re infected with Nyctophilia now.
That’s probably my fault.
Now, when it gets close to bedtime, you fill the conversation with comments about dusk. Where you used to riddle me with questions about where the sun retired to, how it got its gold back after it dropped it all into the lake, and if dropping its gold made the sun, in fact, an autumn-time tree; you, now, fill the dusk with comments and questions about the rising purple, the appearing stars, and the relationship between fireflies and shadows.
It’s not just nighttime though. You’ve become obsessed with darkness in all settings.
When we drove into town to visit the library, you checked out a book on shadow-puppets. You’ve asked to have dinner after sunset with only the candles lit, and you like to practice your silhouette creatures then.
I’ve taken you into my darkroom once or twice, and now you ask to visit it nearly every night. You’ve completely forsaken your favorite spots in the greenhouse for it. You love the way that the darkness draws out the pigment in each photograph, making something almost Ex Nihilo. You love the contrast in the pictures too, the way the white only exists as an abstract until the darkness defines it.
You told me earlier today that there is darkness almost everywhere. You said that even in people’s eyes, the windows to their souls, darkness is present at the center.
I don’t think you understand yet just how right you are. By the time you hear this, I’m sure you’ll be old enough to understand your prophetic words. There is darkness everywhere in this world, and it is in each of us living on this earth.
There are setting suns in all of us.
What I can’t help but marvel at is the change in you. Just a few days ago, the dark captivated your imagination in a much different way. You were terrified of what might materialize out of it, afraid of the emptiness and mystery of it. And I understood because the darkness can be terrifying.
We all have dark patches in our stories, dark nights in our spirits. We all have times when we can guide ourselves only by the faintest of stars, when we roll over on our side and place our eyes in the one bar of light that we’re afforded. There are nights when we count the taillights of passing cars because we’re running short of blessings and wish upon sputtering Open signs because we can’t see the sky.
I’m so sorry the world is a dark place. I am so sorry you’ve been afraid.
But, I am here to remind you of something you came to understand just recently.
You came downstairs two weeks ago because the new water-heater makes ominous noises that you only notice when you’re tucked into bed. Despite how many times I’ve tried to explain it to you, you have always persisted that it was something vicious that would attack you during the night.
Only when you sat with me in the dark, could you listen to the sound and hear the truth of it. Only when you were with me could you see past the danger of the darkness and see beauty in it.
I am not naïve, and I am not young. I know that the darkness in this world is an ugly darkness, but I also know it does not last forever—it breaks, just like the sunrise. I know, too, that it serves a purpose. I also know that the power of the darkness changes depending on where you are and who you are with.
The darkness breaks because all things must change—the leaves, the tide, and the times.
And, I need not look beyond the wall in front of my desk to know that darkness serves a purpose. I see the beneficial presence of pure black in every single picture on my wall. If darkness were absent from them, the subject of the photograph would be invisible. I’m not saying that pain is necessary to define us; but I am saying no human lives without the darkness, and its undeniable presence does help shape and define us.
And now that you’re in my life, I know the relationship with darkness changes based on who you are with and where you are. When you came down those stairs, you were seeking my presence as protection; you were seeking me out for comfort. And I was here, I always will be. But, just as much as you were seeking out comfort, so was I. Where you peered into the dark and saw monsters creeping out of the shadows, I gazed into the dark and felt the monsters seeping out of my mind. But, with you there, I remembered who I was with and where I was. I was with you, my child, and we were together in Avalon, our home. I remembered who I was and that I was safe and cared for.
That is what turns the darkness into something beautiful.
When the sun sets inside you, Little Beautiful, remember where you are and who you are with. You are resting in the arms of God, held close to His heart. You are seated in the courts of heaven, covered in the guiltless righteousness of your Father. You are a child redeemed and beloved, never begrudged no matter how prodigal. Remember no matter how much death settles about you, Life burns inside your soul. You are something new, undefined and more than worthy.
And remember who He is. Remember just how many names He has, all of them speaking tribute to His love and care for you. Remember how far He’s brought you, and how much He adores His children. Remember who you are to Him.
That’s when the beauty of the dark is revealed. For “If I say surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to You. The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You.” Even when Avalon and I are gone, you will always be the child of the Light.
He it is who raises the sun for us every morning and sits up with us every night.
Go to sleep, Little Beautiful. Shut your eyes against the dark and let your soul rest.
Yours Ever Always, Goodnight.