Book Review – Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

by Mark Votava


This is a great book by Barbara Brown Taylor!  In it she explores how darkness is crucial to shaping us for the common good of the world we live in.  She concludes the book by saying, “If I want to flourish, I need the ever-changing light of darkness as much as I need the full light of day.”  Highly recommended.

  • There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there

“…it makes me wonder how seeing has made me blind – by giving me cheap confidence that one quick glance at things can tell me what they are, by distracting me from learning how the light inside me works, by fooling me into thinking I have a clear view of how things really are, of where the road leads, of who can see rightly and who cannot.  I am not asking to become blind, but I have become a believer.  There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there.”

  • Learning to let go of my bright ideas about God

“While I am looking for something large, bright, and unmistakably holy, God slips something small, dark, and apparently negligible in my pocket.  How many other treasured have I walked right by because they did not meet my standards?  At least one of the day’s lessons is about learning to let go of my bright ideas about God so that my eyes are open to the God who is…”

  • This dark night is beyond your control

“When the dark night first falls, it is natural to spend some time wondering if it is a test or punishment for something you have done.  This is often a sly way of staying in control of the situation, since the possibility that you have caused it comes with the hope that you can also put an end to it, either by passing the test or by enduring the punishment.  The darker possibility – that this night is beyond your control – is often too frightening to consider at first, at least partly because it means that none of your usual strategies for lightening up is going to work.  One of the hardest things to decide during a dark night is whether to surrender or resist.  The choice often comes down to what you believe about God and how God acts, which means that every dark night of the soul involves wrestling with belief.”

  • The dark night is God’s best gift to you

“The dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation.  It is about freeing you from your ideas about God, your fears about God, your attachment to all the benefits you have been promised for believing in God, your devotion to the spiritual practices that are supposed to make you feel closer to God, your dedication to doing and believing all the right things about God, your positive and negative evaluations of yourself as a believer in God, your tactics for manipulating God, and your sure cures for doubting God.”

How has the dark night of the soul shaped you?