My toes curled into the long, cold grass. There was a deep burning joy in my heart as I sat near the bottom of the short, steep hill that was flawlessly carpeted. It was summertime hot, fading quickly in the fresh darkness, but the ground was already cool, delighting my senses. Life felt different in this place that wasn’t my home but felt more like home than any place I’d ever been.
There was a glow behind and above me of lights and fire, loud laughter and the smell of a bbq. I could hear the sounds of rushing water, pouring over rocks past the black row of trees. In the furthest reaches of the light I saw silhouettes moving. I’ve always liked to sit on the edges, watching, drinking it in- hungry for life. The silhouettes were laughing and running, and I felt absolutely perfect in that moment, quivering with excitement, invisible in the sheltered darkness of the hill.
At home in Arkansas I loved playing hide and seek in the dark. I would run just beyond the reach of the porch light and use the darkness to my advantage. My favorite place was a tall row of bushes on a steep, unlit hill on the edge of our property. I would crawl beyond the obvious branch barrier and there was an open tunnel there for me, the soft dirt warming my bare feet and I would sit there, smiling in the dark as the hot summer nights caused sweat to trickle down my leg. I would brush away mosquitos and delight in the ones looking for me. I was safe in my natural cocoon, a protected space and I peered through the leafy branches.
To some, darkness is a place of evil, of hidden depravity.
To me, it’s always been a place of being hidden and safe.
“A patch of darkness,” is what I have called these natural places symbolizing safety and comfort that I’m drawn to. I find my eyes seek out these places any time I am outside and the perfect memories of childhood awaken when I find them. My heart quickens when on a bright day I see harsh shadows tucked away or in the sudden darkness of a thunder storm.
I feel hemmed in these patches of dark places, inside a fortress, protected.
Although God is light, I find him most often in the shaded places. Perhaps it makes sense even, because without the light, there would be no shadows.