The Value of the Dark
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord. – Psalm 134:1-2
What is the value of the dark?
We haven’t been able to decide whether or not a nightlight is the right choice for our toddler. She has one, a trendy one with a hue you might find in a nightclub. It’s in the shape of an elephant and shines a bright, electric blue.
Meanwhile, she gets her strongest, most uninterrupted rest with complete darkness. Any household that has hosted a toddler will know that the ability to rest hinges on the child’s ability to sleep.
And from that place, “darkness” shifts.
The “darkness” that “isn’t dark to you, O God,” according to my favorite Psalm, 139, is a tough term to unpack. Especially in the places that I call home, where the supremacy of whiteness reigns, darkness assumes an underdog position, at the least. For the Psalmist to see darkness as equal to lightness in the eyes of God, to see a darkness that doesn’t carry the burden of white supremacy, of racism—of the history of fashioning our God in the image of the most powerful instead of in the image of the most oppressed of any color—for the Psalmist and for us to see darkness this way requires a revelation many people who proclaim Jesus won’t have in their lifetimes.
But the ones who minister in the dark of night know something of praise. The ones who aren’t heralded as “right” know what it means to be cut to the quick of things that shed away the scales of privilege – no matter our color or kin.
God doesn’t keep us up through the night – our problems do. But you better rest assured that God is capable of doing something with our nighttimes.
From the weariest of places we can have a song of praise that is especially full of impact and truth. We don’t have to know trouble to know God, but God knows that God knows what to do with our trouble when it comes.
Wherever you are, see God there and be ready with your song of praise. And when you can’t manage it, know that there is someone nearby, someone who just awoken from her own nightmare, ready to sing with you.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City./div>