Lessons in Light and Dark


Nov_HollyIt happened so fast, the light leaving.

It was a slow fade, at first, with the late afternoon sun casting weaker beams in the sky. And then, like a candle snuffed quietly, the sun disappeared and one day we found ourselves eating dinner in the inky blackness. That first darkened night we huddled around the table and felt a keen need to draw closer, to touch shoulders, to clasp hands.

The hushed darkness of winter will do that to you. Pull you in.

And although the earth spins faithfully and the calendar responds in turn, even though I know this cycle by heart, I am still surprised by its steadfastness. The resoluteness of time can grate painfully across this fickle heart of mine and my grandest intentions often fall like cinders from the flame that frames each season.

The passing of years does not always equate an increased wisdom and some lessons wrap themselves in new skin and walk themselves into my days.

My latest lesson wears the skin of a baby.

His name is Samuel which means “God has heard” and how can this be since a baby was not included among my many questions? How does God hear that which has not been spoken?

But here I am, scraping together another chapter of motherhood and, in a twinkling, I am looking down the barrel of nights long and dark. The winter draws closer and I hold God’s answer in my arms.

Perhaps my question was more about the kingdom of God and perhaps the answer is, quite simply, in the here and now. For certainly nothing screams “now” more than an infant.

So the days grow shorter, yes, and the dark wants to pull us in but our desire to draw closer is also part of the answer. For often, when I am up in the deepest corner of the night, attending to the one who has turned my world upside down, I swaddle and sway and sing over the one whom my heart loves. And despite the darkness, I am still able to find his eyes. For the smallest glimmer of light, known only in contrast to the dark, is caught and reflected back to me.

Perhaps the tilt of the earth these days is less about the light leaving and more about our need to search for it anew. And our desire to draw closer is the way we kindle that holy light that seeks to circle and illuminate.

And perhaps, more poignantly, a God who hears is the real answer to all of our unspoken questions. That God pulses with a love that is longer and wider and deeper and higher than all that swirls and criss-crosses our hearts. And, just like that, the light pierces the blanket of night and I am pulled in.


Image credit: madgerly

Holly Grantham
Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of three boys, snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.
Holly Grantham

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  1. Kelly Greer says:

    I am so with you Holly … your words are an open door to all that awaits us even in the dark corners of our days. He hears the unspoken and answers and we are sometimes unawares. Love what joy that Samuel brings!

  2. Anne-Marie says:

    Holly, thank you for this lovely offering. I’ve been thinking of it all day. I struggle on these short, dark days, but love the recent prayers in my readings – which have helped me move into the day with greater ease.

    “In the darkness of this age that is passing away
    may the light of your presence which the saints enjoy
    surround our steps as we journey on.”

    “The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind…As we rejoice in the gifts of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you.”

  3. Holly, Holly, Holly…. These words sang to me this morning. The poetry and the beauty and the thought of God hearing that which has not been spoken. Love you xxx

  4. This is beautiful Holly, and so easy for me to see: the drawing closer in the dark evenings, the sparkling eyes of your dear little boy. I can feel this piece.
    Thank you for sharing with me.

  5. Kolbi Doyle Ward says:

    You’ve done it again. I sit here all teary eyed wishing I could just sit with you and have you tell me your thoughts and explain and calm mine.

  6. Ah, Holly. Welcome back, sweet girl. This is stunning and soft and evocative and just plain gorgeous. Thank you.

    • Oh Diana, thank you. It has been good and right to be pulled back from the world for a bit but it also feels oh so good to share my words here. Grateful for your ear, always.

  7. Lori Evans says:

    I knew it was going to be good, before I read it. What a way with words you have dear cousin.

  8. Bev Murrill says:

    And so the world turns… and grows… and grows up… and changes… into what, we do not know and yet we join the dance, and dance our hearts away.

    How lovely you are, Holly… I can hear all the unsaid under the beauty of what you’ve written, and the beauty of your life, even when the NOW has a baby’s cry.

  9. Your words always speak to me, Holly. I can see all five of you in that holiest of moments as you pull in closer around your table on the dark, cold evenings. I am with you in the rocking, swaying dance of mother and baby, swaddled tight together in the grace of being PRESENT. As you search his eyes and those ever-wise ones hold steady right back –

    Looking for the light, letting the darkness magnify its glimmer … and then reflect it into the days to come. Poignant and sacred, these spaces.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you for knowing all of this and for being there right alongside of me.
      May we continue to inhabit these sacred spaces and shine light into each others’ darkness, friend.

  10. This is lovely. It takes me right back to the dark days with my newborn last advent. She, too, was God’s answer to a question I never asked. She, too, was my companion, love-in-my-arms, for some very dark nights.
    Thank you for wrapping up in words the light that has been revealed to you in the darkness. And thank you for sharing it.

    • Christine,
      What an incredible privilege we have,,,to hold those so fresh from heaven…those whose fingertips still trail holy dust. Joy.

  11. I love this Holly: “Perhaps the tilt of the earth these days is less about the light leaving and more about our need to search for it anew.” Life seems to be a continual dance in which I’m stumbling in the darkness and looking for the light — always searching. Thank you for your beautiful words – always SO beautiful. xoxox

  12. This is lovely, Holly.

  13. Such beautiful, truthful poetry in your words. Thank you.

  14. I love that thought of searching for a light that finds itself here less each day!

    Very beautiful 🙂


    • And, further, the thought that the light is made manifest by the darkness… it is in that truth that we can grab hold of hope,yes? Praying that you can kindle a holy flame in these shortening days, Esther.

  15. Powerful thoughts in here for me to ponder today Holly! i love this thought…’ For certainly nothing screams “now” more than an infant.’. How I want to hear and respond in the now moments and be awakened to ALL that God holds for me in my life right NOW.

    Thank you xo

    • Oh, the cries of an infant–our portal to the here and now, a hundredfold! Let’s enter into those moments fully awake, friend, as you have prayed. Yes.


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