Darkly Delighted

Photo and Text by Joe Grant © 2021

By tender mercies divine, dawn breaks over us from on high,
to illumine all who inhabit darkness and death’s shadow
and guide our footsteps to pathways of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

How do you welcome the dawning of new beginnings?

With fresh fires and Christmas lights,
those darkest days of the rolling year we mark,
to remember how everything starts in the dark.

Darker days carry danger and alienation
yet dakness also draws us together;
a time for dimming headlights so stars might find us.

Losing track of stars and seasons, we may
have robbed our children of awe-inspiring nocturnal
illustrations of spangled infinity and lunar regularity.
Disconnected and dissociated, we risk a self-infatuated
existence that leaves us at the mercy of our own
devices, far beyond the reach of the lowly wisdom
accessible only in the shadowy, disturbing delights of
essential darkness.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

This season of birth pangs and beginnings,
offers occasion to look lovingly back
over a year of gifts, of losses and of lessons.

Pained by opportunities missed,
and the violations of life and lifestyles,
still, we give abundant thanks.

With humility we acknowledge
failure to imagine more compassionate alternatives
in the brief brilliance of our existence.


Tied together
are we
by hope
that is only ours to share.

In dark times,
senses hone and heighten.
readied for dread,
steadied for surprise.

Such happenings
we call breaking news
because they tell
of something breaking down or broken free.

There is gift between
these newly disturbing lines,
though rake for it, we must,
to unwrap its layers of burden.

Thus, we learn by living
to heed our fears,
so we are no longer
led by them.

Questioning each answer,
we listen a little longer
for wisdom deeper
echoing an older hoped-for promise
that we can indeed
rewire the tired workings
of this wan and weary world.

Wisdom and hope in tandem appear
when we coalesce,
panged and hungry, devoid of solutions,
discontented by fixes.

In necessary darkness we perceive
inconspicuous constellations,
trillions of tiny loving kindnesses,
whispered blessings, quiet, impassioned petitions,
conspiring about a better world
forever in the re-making.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

When humbly we realize
we don’t know where to go,
we are ready to be led into brighter days.

For those who seek the Spirit of Peace
abide in the tension between grief for all that is lost and never can be,
and gratitude for all that is given, an abundance of possibility.

We live in the fullness of time.
Every moment is God’s own good time, God’s kairos.
The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer
a chance to realize that we have what we seek.
We don’t have to rush after it.
It was there all the time and if we give it time,
it will make itself known to us.

Thomas Merton

May this new season lead you to dream and scheme,
starting with gratitude, softened by sorrows,
and sparked by longed for restoration.


Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Now available here.

Scratchings invites one to explore a world of meaning delving deep beyond the surface to something truly human, truly spirit, truly personal. Challenged to ask the hard, difficult questions, the ones that come when you are deep in silence, or tending a garden, I found that Scratchings takes you on a path not necessarily where you will find the answers but to a profound engagement in the on-going and evolving search for truth. Your own. Touching a yesterday that opens gently into a tomorrow. A safe place to remember. A wonderful place to Dream.

  • Sr. Sue Scharfenberger, osu, Lima, Peru.