TSP Book Club: Scared of the Dark

She wanted to play hide and seek.
In the dark.
This child of the light,
who loves to stride and run her way through life,
she wanted to go into the closet,
turn out the light
and, ‘shhh…be quiet,’ 
and hide from her beloved Poppy.
So I picked her up, held her close and shut the closet door.
She turned out the light and urged me to go further in.
Very carefully –
because it was dark in there! –
I backed us up into the furthest corner,
and waited.
“I can’t see you, Nana,” she whispered.
“I know. I can’t see you, either.” 

She wrapped her arms around me a little bit more
tightly, touching her cheek close to mine.

“Your glasses seem scary in the dark, Nana.” 
“I’m sorry, honey. Can you feel them?
They’re just my regular old glasses.
Nothing to be scared of.” 

“They look scary,” and her voice quavered just a little.
But here is what she did:
as she got more frightened,
she clung to me ever more tightly.
More kisses,
more strokes,
more nestling. 

We had failed to let Poppy in on the game, 
so he never did come find us.
We turned on the light,
opened the door,
and went back to our usual Wednesday happiness –
tea party, books, lunch, nap.

Later that day, as I thought about that 
sweet moment in the darkness, 
I think I finally began to understand something 
of what Julia Cameron has been trying to teach us
over at the TweetSpeak Poetry Book Club.
For the last six weeks, we’ve been exploring,
“The Artist’s Way: 
A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”
And I’ve been fighting it hard,
regularly resisting the Morning Pages,
generally keeping myself on the edge of things,
watching curiously while others test these waters.
It feels like the dark to me, you see.
Reaching into the muck that is too often my mind
(especially in the morning),
feels strange; it feels scary.
Yet I find myself resonating with much of what Julia says,
nodding at the need for self-care,
agreeing with her call
to creating space for creativity in my life.
I particularly like this sentence 
from our concluding week’s assignment:
“Creativity is a spiritual practice.” (pg. 182) 
I believe this with my whole heart.
I have encouraged creativity,
 in my kids,
in my home,
in my church,
in my ministry life.

Why, then, am I frightened by this ‘artist’s way?’ 
Maybe because even familiar things can take on 
strange forms and shadows 
when we’re operating in the dark. 
Maybe because I’m not sure what I’ll find if 
I hang out in that dark for very long. 
Maybe because I’ll discover a big
audacious dream in the middle of the muck,
and I’m not sure I can handle that. 
Maybe because I’ve forgotten to cling to what I do know,
to cling to Whom I know,
and to trust that who I am – 
even in the dark – 
is held,
A little more nestling may be required.
Joining with Lyla and the gang over at TweetSpeak, with Emily for her last-for-the-summer Imperfect Prose, with Jennifer at God-Bumps and  Ann’s Wednesday group:

ts book club no border


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  1. Oh, Diana. I get this in ways that I can’t fit into words.

    Thank you.

  2. Diana, this is amazing.  So powerful.  I found myself agreeing with your granddaughter all the way through…   and that she was actually finding value inside of the darkness as long as she had you to hold her made me think of the safety we big people need but are too grown up (and away) to realize or admit…. so we stay “in” the dark by never going into it.   But little ones?  Little ones, if they’re blessed with a loved on who will go with, drag you INTO their scary places and hold on tight as they need… and they explore the dark and learn that the dark doesn’t hurt them because it doesn’t really change anything. Being in the dark, for them, is worth the exhilaration of popping up and saying “you FOUND ME”… and even tho papa didn’t know to look it just didn’t matter anymore because you both found what you needed in there.  I’m hoping that she reads this one day when she is all grown up.  Its a tribute to her trust in you, your openness to her, and your own wonderful insight.

  3. Maybe because even familiar things can take on strange forms and shadows when we’re operating in the dark.

    Oh, Diana. Yes to that. 

    Thanks for coming along on this one. It was not easy for me. 🙂

  4. Wow, Diana!  Goosebumps here.  Powerful how we can see Truth quietly “spoken” through the lives of the little ones…His still, small Voice whispering in the dark and holding us just a little closer.  I’ll be thinking on this much today.  Bless you!

  5. smiles…creativity can be a scary place…and the unknown…in the dark even what is usual seems unfamiliar…and that can def bring fear…a fear we can overcome…

  6. pastordt says

    Uh, huh. What you said! Thanks for stopping by, Brian.

  7. pastordt says

    Sometimes I wish I had been just a little bit more patient with my own kids’ time as little ones. I always loved watching them grow into the people they were becoming, so I really did not mourn the passage from one phase of childhood to another. But I’m mourning this last baby’s growing up, I’ll tell you. Grandparenthood adds another whole level of love and connection and I am forever grateful for it. This little girl teaches us something rich every time she’s with us.

  8. pastordt says

    I know it was not easy for you – nor for me. But despite my misgivings, resistances and kvetching, I think this has been a good and ultimately healthy exercise. Now to live with the truths I’m learning. Sigh.

  9. pastordt says

    Thank you, Donna, for these good words – right on target. She has always amazed me with her love for the dark – so many kids just plain hate it. Yesterday was the first time she gave any inkling that it can be a fearsome place sometimes. But she didn’t want to leave – she just wanted to hang onto me a little bit harder. And how I loved that!

  10. pastordt says

    Yeah, I had a hard time fitting it into words myself. :>)

  11. I need to read this frequently!

  12. smoothstones says

    What a little sweetheart. I love the things children teach us.

  13. Such good, deep soul-searching here, Diana. I read The Artist’s Way last year. I got it from the library, skimmed through it, deemed it bunk and returned it the library without another thought. But I don’t know…you’ve got me thinking. Maybe so much of what I didn’t like about it was more the fact that it scared me? I may have to head back to the library…

  14. pastordt says

    I gotta say, Michelle – this is not a book you can ‘do’ from the library. It requires notes, underlining, folding back page corners and writing on the page – at least for me. This book is a lifetime project, not a 3 week journey or even a six week journey. Some of made me want to holler ‘bunk,’ too.
    But a lot of it is right on. And I think it got more so as she worked through the chapters. She feels less and less need to substitute other ideas for God, for one thing – she just chooses to call that creative force within as God-designed, even God-ordained. So…hang in with it. That’s all I can recommend.

  15. pastordt says

     Me, too, Brandee. Me, too.

  16. pastordt says

     Yup. Me, too. :>)

  17. Alicia Bruxvoort says

    Oh, beautiful words. Love your line- “might find a dream in the middle of the muck.” I hope you do! Blessings from Iowa. I’m dropping by from Jen’s today

  18. pastordt says

    Thanks for coming by, Alicia!

  19. When I dig around in those dark places, i feel that fear creep in. So I go in with a flashlight, and suddenly, they aren’t so scary

  20. pastordt says

    Good point, David. A flashLight is a great idea.

  21. That first photo gets me. What is she holding to her ear? A pear? An avocado? Whatever it is, that’s what I feel like–frustrated that I can’t get my “fruit” to talk to me.

  22. pastordt says

    She’s talking to a small, underdeveloped coconut her sister found on the ground as we went out for breakfast near the end of our week on St. Thomas last month. I have a series of 3 photos of her talking on the ‘phone’ while we waited for our food. SO cute and dear. And she had quite the patter goin’ there, too. And the rest of the week, we were all approached regularly with: “And what would you like to have for breakfast today?” We’d give our order and she’d go to a nearby chair (any kind would do) and furiously turn dials, stir the pot and then come back and say, “Here it is. Eat it up.” I have a series of pictures of her doing that, too, and thought about using one of those – but they require a bit too much explication to be fully appreciated!

  23. Glenda Childers says

    Oh, that darling girl.

    I wonder what God is stirring up in your creative heart, Diana. I look forward to the results. 

  24. pastordt says

    Thank you, Glenda. I’m getting to that place of looking forward… I think.

  25. Emily Wierenga says

    how i get this. this clinging to God. it’s what i do with my heavenly father when i’m terrified, which i am, most of the time. i love how you captured this tender, beautiful moment…

  26. pastordt says

    I’m not at all surprised that you get this, Em. I see you do this – so faithfully, so beautifully. And it was such a tender moment, one I’ll remember a very long time.

  27. Oh, she is so adorable! 

    And this: “Maybe because I’ll discover a big
    audacious dream in the middle of the muck,and I’m not sure I can handle that.”I’m going to ponder that a while. You’ve actually done much better at this than I have. I’m going to be starting over. 🙂