Alone in the Dark

“You hem me in, behind me and before me, and lay your hand upon me.” – Psalm 139:5

I just moved to a new city, ahead of my family who will follow later. In the homesteading spirit, I decided to rent a tiny house in someone’s backyard, complete with outhouse, mismatched elementary school chairs, obscene cascades of roses, fire pit and picnic table. I use a chamber pot at night and dump my graywater into the rose bushes every morning.

There are spiders. I do a spider-check every night before bedtime (my hosts have thoughtfully provided me with a Dustbuster for this purpose). I don’t like to think about what happens too much after I fall asleep, with my mouth open.

The last time I lived alone was half a lifetime ago. There is a sweet joy in it, the freedom to leave my socks around, to eat ice cream for dinner without reproach, to keep all hours without disturbing another.

But it wears thin. I have been burning the candle at both ends, at risk of burning out at my current pace. Sleep has eluded me, which was fun for a while–my own personal slumber party, all the time (ALL the episodes of “Call the Midwife”!). But more nights passed and my sleep deficit expanded. I grew worried, and yet unable to bring myself to face the night and its aloneness (and spiders) unless utterly exhausted.

Then the other night I came home from working late, to darkness. The power was out in the entire neighborhood. No lights for my nightly spider rounds, and no Dustbuster. The only thing to do was what the real homesteaders did: go to bed.

After a fitful, then prayerful, 10 minutes, my eyes grew accustomed to the dark. I saw the stars out my tiny window. I fell right to sleep and woke up 7 hours later.

Sometimes God has to turn out the lights so we can see. Sometimes God has to hem us in to set us free.


God, even the night is as light to you. Thank you for being there so we are never truly alone. And thank you for making spiders so nutritious. Amen.

About the Author
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.