This piece was written in an English composition class in college to fulfill an assignment based upon an experience we had, and how we would share that experience with others.
The written word is the second most common form of sharing ideas with someone – next to the spoken word – and it’s effects last for an indefinite period of time.
This is why I write: to share Life with others.
The chilled autumn air fills my lungs as I leave the well-lit dorm building. Stepping out beneath the clear night sky, I am embraced by a familiar darkness that is as deep as the earth’s shadow. I look up and see a sprinkling of countless stars: a view too wide to be taken in with just one glance. There are evenings (like this one) when the stars themselves mark the ceiling of my thoughts. Going for a walk in the night is an excellent way to clear the system, because when the world is dark there are fewer concepts cluttering your mind. One can get to the heart of it all so much easier without becoming distracted. It seems as if the eyes of the heart are opened when the lights of the world are put out.
However, for various reasons there are times when we are incapable of going for a walk. We may wish we could get away, but must remain in place. And yet we can never be totally boxed in, because the human spirit will always remain untamed. Figuratively speaking, we can go for a walk whenever we feel like it. We just have to be willing to put aside all the distractions and let our hearts take up the effort. We have to let our imaginations go to work. You could go for a walk right now, if you want. But first, you need to put yourself in a place where it is possible to do so. Forget about where you are. There is nobody around. No noise. There is only a silence like the breath of God. Now step off the path. Don’t be afraid of the Unknown; it is your tool for the future; it is your guide now. Where does it take you?
You are walking down a sidewalk. The world around is dark, save for the drab, downward glow of street lamps lighting the long, concrete path you’re on: a straight shot with an end you cannot see. As you go, you can trace the outlines of nearby buildings standing resolute against the glimmer of distant stars. Like giants they block off the sky. You feel restricted, and the closeness makes you long for more open spaces. You continue on till you reach the very end of the sidewalk. Before you there is an even deeper darkness where the glow of artificial light ceases entirely. There is something about this steady, natural darkness that reaches out to you. It beckons you to take that next step. So, casually and yet somewhat solemnly, you stride into the shadow. Your eyes are closed, and the first thing you notice is your feet hitting gravel. A few steps further and your mind begins to unwind. Feeling more at ease, you open your eyes again.
As your pupils adjust, you begin to see the world in a whole different way. At first, the weight of the night feels like satin on your eyes. But soon you adapt, and the stars appear once more. How glorious! The sky becomes the playground of your soul, and the silence becomes the song of your heart.
You walk along the gravel road for a while, trying to forget about the long day behind you. The still night is like food for your weary soul. Before long you desire to venture out into the unknown once more. Turning to the side, you step into grass. Now there is a new set of silhouettes against the dark horizon. But they are not buildings. You can tell that they are trees by the shape of their outlines and by a porous glow of stars peeking through their leafy middles. Your eyes have adapted well by this point, and as you walk among the trunks of these silent giants, you become more sure of your footing. Your gait grows more steady, and your heart grows more still. The smell of ferns and evergreens fills your nostrils, and the feeling of fresh dew on your skin gives a pleasant evening chill.
All too soon, the comforting presence of the trees fades into the background. You step out beneath the naked sky once more. Ahead of you, there is an all new sight that once more plays wonderfully on your senses. A lake lays before you now, stretching farther to your left and to your right than the distance to the other bank. As you drift along the gently curving water’s edge, you see the moon and stars dancing gracefully upon the ripples. There is no longer a breeze in the air, yet the ripples remain. There is something so tranquilizing in the moments when the only moving things around are you and the water. The lake seems to come alive! And yet it remains so perfectly poised, like a great dark dragon sleeping in the grass. Its ripples look like countless scales, each one reflecting the great moonlight. One sensory epiphany is followed immediately by another, each one building onto the romance of the night. Suddenly, you see the whole world through new eyes. The world around you is darkened, and yet the truth of it all seems to shine through so much more brightly.
How can one describe what it is like when the realization of the universe hits you? You feel elevated, as if in some small way your very being has been radically changed. And you can’t even explain why.
You walk on in a daze, listening to the ripples lap at the muddy earth. Eventually, you make it to the side of the lake opposite from where you began. Sitting down in the cool grass beneath a tree, you give your heart a moment to breathe. Gently and quietly, you let all you have been thinking and feeling up till now cascade in your mind. So many things have been filling you up in these peaceful moments. The secure weight of the darkness. The silver dusting of stars in the sky. The trees. The water. All seems to play its part in this dreamlike world, reshaped by the absence of the sun. How beautiful! At a time when most of the people you know have been asleep for hours, you have been experiencing the dreams they are lacking. You have found the better part right outside the door.
These times of extraordinary peace and surrender are God’s way of reminding us of the love He put into creation. We sometimes become so dazzled by creation that we forget the hands by which it was formed. Or even when we see such striking beauty, we often take it for granted. All this was in the imagination of One Person. Whether we are able to see it or not, we live in a world glorious beyond our comprehension. All that you can and cannot see, and all that you have ever known was simply spoken into being. It makes you feel so small. And yet you realize – perhaps for the first time ever – that you are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Like the trees or the waters or the stars, you are also an important part of this vast universe. Without you, the night would have had no one to gaze upon its wonder. Without you, the night wouldn’t be complete.
As you walk back to where you began, everything seems backwards. The world you used to know doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Everything has taken on a new appearance. It all seems so clean and fresh as if you have never truly known the world before now. It is almost sad to think that this time has come to an end; but it has left an impact on you and that you will not easily forget. From now on, each new moment is an opportunity to see the world in a new way. All that there is – the stars, the earth, the water – they all play their part in the tapestry of life. Once you realize that you are also woven into this great mystery, you can see life from an entirely different vantage-point.
When you look back on this night, you will remember the time you were able to see beauty in the dark. You have found an aspect of unity and completion that was hidden before. It is when the eyes of the body are covered up that the eyes of the heart are then opened. You see the night from the viewpoint of a star, and all seems right with the soul. No longer does the weight of the earth’s darkness press on you like a giant weight. You are looking out upon a world that was created for you. You come to know yourself better by the experiences you have had. And this experience was a very special one. The hidden glory that you could never see before, you see it now.
You’re seeing in the dark.