I grew in those
seasons like corn in the night . . . Henry David Thoreau
“At two, they’ve grown to half of their full height,” they
doctor tells us as our twin boys wriggle and squiggle through their annual
appointment. “It took them two years to
grow this much and it will take them the next sixteen years to finish
In two years they grew like flowers blossoming in a high-speed video, unfurling, stretching out and up toward the light.
Lying in their cribs at night, they’re wrecked, passed out
cold in the strangest positions, half-covered, while stuffed animals and binkies flung into
the darkness lay scattered across the floor.
They sleep twelve hours a night and science
tells us that their growth is fueled in part by this surrender to the long, dark night.
* * *
The natural world is slipping into darkness now , the last
leaves are shaken from the trees with a stretch and a quavering yawn as life
continues, quieted, in the deep, dark, subterranean layers of the earth. Earlier and earlier every evening now, I walk
the perimeter of our house switching on the lamps that push back the
night. Strategically placed in every
corner, they stand tall and thin like toothpicks propping our eyelids
open. Outside the darkness grows, but
the bright yellow eyes of our windows glow because we believe there is more to
be done; we cannot rest, cannot embrace, willingly, the dark, still
Maybe we believe, as Parker Palmer suggests, that, “if we are
not making noise,. . . nothing good is happening and something must be dying”
(89). We have lost the sense of the value of darkness, lost an awareness that there may be good and important things
going on in it of which we are unaware.
* * *
The butterfly in its cocoon, the cicada asleep in the belly of the world, the child in the womb, all of these and more rely on darkness; in waiting and surrender they’re changed into what they will be. Isn’t it possible then that we too might grow in such a night?
Perhaps we too are only half of what we have yet to become and so let us go, peacefully to our rest, while the great God who spun the night across the wide expanse of the sky, like silk, and who whirled the stars out wide in their orbits, works quietly within us to bring all things into completion.