In September, I stood in some International Dark Sky Parks in Utah, staring at the stars in more abundance and brilliance than I’d ever seen them. Lights studded the sky from one horizon to the other, constellations I’d never seen clearly visible. Only occasional car headlights in the distant parking lot disturbed the complete liquid ink of the night. My husband practiced his astrophotography, while I risked sore neck muscles tomorrow for the immediate wonder tonight.
During this Advent season, I want, at least figuratively, to go where sound and light make no dent in a quilted black kaleidoscope sky. I want to sit, in the fullness of a silent night, and look at the glory above my relatively insignificant head.
Advent, the province of stars, makes me long for both darkness and light. I long for and believe in the light that no darkness can overcome. I’m grateful for his presence in a world that needs that kind of piercing hope.
Yet we wait, too, and we wait so often in the dark.
There are things we can see only in the dark.
Slighted stars, not usually bright enough for attention when they compete with city lights. I want to notice the overlooked.
I want to choose to see, as Matthew did in his genealogy of Christ, those whom history has ignored and privilege has deemed invisible.
Fitful dreams come in the dark. The ones we can’t quite pin down in the morning, but whose presence in the darkness might lead us to new questions.
This Advent, may we be willing to sit with the questions and listen to the dreams of others.
The power of grief shows up in the dark, and I want to appreciate again that blessed are those who mourn. I want to weep with those who weep. Fellow stargazers, afraid of beacons that mercilessly glare on their still-open wounds, are willing to be vulnerable in darkness. I want to sit with them and hear their stories.
Waiting patiently on the Lord, being still, and knowing who God is, come easier in the darkness, when we already move slower.
Pinpricks of hope. The camaraderie of quiet. My own smallness in the universe. Like stars, these all appear more accurately and acutely in the dark.
I, like so many, am afraid of what I can’t see. I fear treading beyond my safe circle of light. But what if there is another kind of light in darkness that I know little of?
It took a blazing star for the supposed wisest people to look for God. But Lord, let me discover you in the darkness. Let me seek what I cannot see. Give me eyes to find you where you so often went, after all. Amen.
Jill Richardson is the pastor of Real Hope Community Church near Chicago. She is the author of six books and a national speaker, as well as a contributor to books from Dayspring, Lillenas, and Christianity Today. Jill’s doctorate in "Church Leadership in a Changing Context" is helping her with her passion—passing on a healthy, creative church and doing it with the next generation. She is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary (St. Paul), and Washington University. Her focus is on church leadership, creative preaching, immigration and refugees, women’s issues, and intergenerational leadership. She has an unnatural love for Middle-earth, chocolate marzipan, old musicals, fish tacos, oceans, cats, and Earl Grey. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, kindness, justice, and the Cubs. You can find her work at jillmrichardson.com.