On The Mountain – “Traveling By Night”

27 Aug

You’ve heard the old saying: “They’re as different as night and day!”  And maybe you know people like that: he likes chocolate, she likes vanilla; he prefers politics to the left, she gravitates to the right; hard rock for him, classical for her.  Day and night.

I once asked Sue, with whom I have much in common, about her favorite time of the day.  She answered: “The morning, of course.  Everything is bright and new; energy is up.  The morning is my favorite time of the day.”  And then, not surprisingly, she redirected the question to me.  “I like the dusk of the day,” I told her.  “I like the long shadows and the slowing down.  It’s rather melancholy.  The early evening, that’s my time of day.”  “Sure,” she said, looking at me like I’d gone off the track.  (I state again: we have 52 years of things in common, so this is not the confession of a problem…just an observation about how two people can be different.}

I think of this now, as dusk approaches and the pine trees are casting very long shadows over the valley below our cabin.  And I think of it because of the word “night” that has just caused me to pause on an early page in a fine book by Michael Ford about four spiritual masters:  Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Anthony de Mello, and John O’Donohue.  Even taken out of context, the sentence stands on its own.  Ford writes: “The way of faith involves traveling by night.”

The spiritual masters, these four mentioned and others, have said in chorus that seekers encounter the Holy out of darkness of the soul, in dark places of life, in the night of our confusions, when all seems hopeless and lightless.  In the darkness, one meets the Other.

I have known this to be true intellectually for some time, but now I understand it a little better.  So many times in my own spiritual travels I have awakened during the early morning hours with a thought or an insight or a collection of words that demand to be written down for more exploration in the light of day.  Sermon ideas, possible solutions to problems, even new lyrics to a tune that had been running through my mind…in the night, there they are.  Maybe when dusk slips its arms around the day, I unconsciously relax my mind and become more receptive to the Mystery that has always been there but unable to break through my rigid agendas.  I just know that dusk does it for me.

Two early mornings ago…at 3:43 a.m. to be exact…I slipped out onto the front porch of the cabin into the brilliance of full moon light, into the deafening silence of the forest at night, into the wonder of a world of stunning beauty and majesty, and into the Presence of that which is always waiting in the darkness.  We had a good conversation.



One Response to “On The Mountain – “Traveling By Night””

  1. Michael Burt August 28, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    Sent from my iPad

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