A Dark Night Gets a Little Lighter


Yesterday was Youth Sunday at College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC. As pastor Michael Usey put after the second service, it wasn’t about young people playing “big church”, it was the younger members of our family showing us how the Gospel was revealed in their lives. The lectionary text this year was Exodus 3:1-6. That may not be the whole text, but it’s what I remember. I’m not sure if that’s complete because I have a slight case of Attention Deficit Disorder and a really shitty short-term memory. Throw in a little OCD and, sometimes, life’s just a big ol’ party for me. And, yes, I’m being sarcastic when I say that.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really suffer from ADD/bad memory/OCD. I don’t “enjoy every minute of it”, either. Let’s just say it has its moments and, most days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I firmly believe that whatever talent at this writing thing is because I’m just the slightest bit weird and that weirdness springs from the well of my “affliction”. I’ve always been told I march to the beat of a different drummer and I’m not sure if that’s an innate thing or if I learned to because it was impossible for me to stay in step with everyone else. Whatever the case, I decided a long time ago not to let it get me down. Instead, I wear my oddity as a badge of honor.

I will admit it does have it’s downfalls, however. In “A Dark Night“, I talk about my particular “dark night of the soul”, saying “I’ve never had that big God moment people talk about where God knocked me to my knees (or, in the case of charismatics, laid me out completely). Hell, I’ve never even felt my heart “strangely warmed” a la John Wesley.” Yesterday, listening to some most excellent young people talk about their experiences with holy ground, I began to realize that, thanks to my ADD, I miss a lot of that.

I’ve heard people talk about “thin places” or “holy ground”, but my experience with these things is fleeting at best.  My encounters with them are a bit like trying to relate a dream you had the night before; you remember the feeling, maybe even a couple of specifics, but the whole thing is vague, hazy and just out of reach. As I said in “A Dark Night”, it’s maddening.

I think my ADD plays into this because my mind is constantly in motion. You’re supposed to “be still and know that I am God”.  Ask any of my elementary school teachers and they’ll tell you that being still isn’t exactly my long suit. I’d make a terrible Buddhist because sitting quietly, emptying my mind and being in the moment can be a futile exercise.

Even though it might sound like it, I’m not really whining about my problem. It’s more an acknowlegement of the problem itself. As philosopher and psychologist John Dewey said “a problem well put is half solved.” I’m not sure if it’s been “well put”, but I understand a little more of what’s going on even if no one else does. And, because of that, maybe my dark night is getting a little lighter.