for those who walk in darkness

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

September 4, 2012

It shatters my slumber, the voice through the monitor.

“Gramma. Gramma!”

It’s still dark.

Sigh. Why can’t she pull her own blanket up or reach the pillow from the floor?

I scootch up high and swing legs over and around the cat. I palm the walls, slide heel-toe down narrow carpeted steps, careful not to repeat a fall but unwilling to dazzle myself with light.

I open her door. “What’s wrong?”

“My bunny’s making too much noise jumping around. She woke me up. I tried burying my head under the pillow like this, but it didn’t work.”

I sigh again. “Do you want me to move the cage out of your room?”

“No. It’s fine.”

I scowl at her. “So you woke me up simply to tell me your rabbit woke you up? Go back to sleep.”

She smiles sheepish. “Night, Gramma.”

I count fifteen steps up until feet touch cool wood, turn right, squeeze between bed and fan by the light of the clock. I reach out to feel for the footboard, but once again I bang left hip into its corner. I slip back under the sheet from the top. The husband on my right doesn’t move. The cat on my left doesn’t move. The cat at my feet doesn’t move.

It’s 3 a.m. And I’m wide awake now. So I move.

I scootch, swing, palm, and slide again, pad across the living room into the kitchen, dazzle myself with light.

Now what?

I could fire up the Mac and check out Facebook. I could fold the clothes in the dryer. I could read a book. I could wash the floors. I could pay bills.

I slip toes into black flip-flops and unlock the back door. I shake off the thought of a robber-rapist inside the garage or a rabid coyote around the corner and sit down on the bench, lean back against the redwood table. The moon’s tucked behind a cloud that trails golden rivulets. I see one single star, and I’m intrigued by the shapes of black trees against gray sky. I’ve walked into a charcoal drawing.

The air vibrates with night songs.

Because the darkness holds its own kind of music.

I walk the perimeter of the yard and talk with Him about fears and anxieties and about loved ones and situations. The clouds part and the moon glows bright, and I wonder if I ever wondered at it as a child.

How many wonder moments have I lost in my lifetime?

Back inside, all is still, and I turn on the Mac. I read the words of others who’ve found wonder, who’ve learned to lean into the night, who’ve found music in the dark.

I crack an egg, scoop flour, pour milk, and stir. I stack waffles golden on a china moon and watch the sun burst through the darkness.

I’m dazzled by the light and moved with wonder.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. ~Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows–light! Sunbursts of light! ~Isaiah 9:2 (MSG)


  1. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Sandy, I love this.

    How many wonder moments can we experience between now and, say, then?

  2. Nancy Franson

    Imagery of light and dark are much on my mind these days. Lovely, Sandra. Just lovely.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks so much, Nancy. I keep thinking that without the dark, we couldn’t see the light.

  3. Diana Trautwein

    I woulda just laid there, griping inside. Kudos to you for getting up and inviting the wonder to come and play. Waffles, eh? Soundin’ pretty good right this minute… Thanks for this sweetness, Sandy.

    • Sandra Heska King

      I thought about griping, but then considered it pointless. 😉

      Love, love, love my little Belgian waffle maker.

  4. soulstops

    oh, love how you took advantage of an unplanned moment for wonder and waffles…you paint so well with your words…blessings, Sandra, and I hope you got a better night’s sleep 🙂

    • Sandra Heska King

      Wonder and waffles. That’d make a good working title for something–maybe a song? Thanks so much, Dolly. I slept well the next night! 🙂

  5. Megan D. Willome

    I like the 3 a.m. walk idea. Of course, my dogs would hear me get up and want to come along. Which is not entirely awful. (We usually walk at 5.)

  6. Martha Orlando

    You have made being rudely awakened in the middle of the night sound like the dawn of new opportunity to live, to love, and to relish every moment. How I was swept up and away, and inspired by your words, Sandy! Thank you and blessings always!

    • Sandra Heska King

      I suppose we could look at every moment as an opportunity, yes? I’m glad this touched you, Martha.

  7. Alicia Bruxvoort

    Sandra, thanks for painting this beautiful picture of the “music in darkness.” I can’t count the number of times I’m wide awake at night after a child interrupts my sleep- but so often I just grumble instead of seek for the grace in that moment. I’m inspired- next time, I’m heading outside to gaze at the moon 🙂 Thank you! Dropping by from Playdates today.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Welcome, Alicia. Thanks so much for clicking through. It’s really a whole different world out there at night.

  8. Diane W. Bailey

    As Usual SAndra, your words carry me into your story….How many moments have I missed as well?

  9. Laura Boggess

    Oh, these stolen moments are the wonder ones, aren’t they? Thanks for sharing this beautiful one with me 🙂

    • Sandra Heska King

      You are way generous with your own moments, my friend.

  10. Elizabeth

    Oh Sandy, it seems the spontaneous moments, the unplanned stumbled upon ones, they are the richest and deepest. Your words and your story, they beautifully invite and woo me into places of wonder too.

    • Sandra Heska King

      And those moments, they’re so easy to miss, aren’t they? Glad to walk in the wonder places with you, Elizabeth.


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for those who walk in darkness

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min