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If Lent was a place, it would be wherever darkness is.

Lent would be in the womb of a black woman. It would be in the bush in the Congo. Lent would be in the creases in our Bibles and in the soul of the most vile. Lent is a dark place that even the faithful call true, raw, and home.

We come from dust, it’s true. Not the sand like the beaches in Cape Town or the red clay of the Carolinas, but dust. The stuff that stains the carpet, that covers the faces of children, and holds the roots of the life-sustaining fruit trees of the earth. From dust we come and to dust we shall return.

Lent is the time to return to the dark place where humanity began with God. Before there was light, there was God and the dark. Yes, darkness wrapped herself around the Godhead, taking a front row seat to creation. She then took her place alongside light to form a perfectly measured 24-hour day. Darkness held the stars like an infant and took her slumber while the sun showed off.

Darkness has been objectified, gaslighted, and scapegoated into an obscure place where fear resides.

There is where she sat from Pentecost to Advent to Epiphany all alone, until I showed up on a Wednesday. I dared not sit with or by her as a colleague; no, I was compelled to sit in her, as dust collapsed in her lap. She did not reject me or molest me, but she cradled me. Yes, me. Even me. I could have never imagined me—five-foot-seven-and-a-half, 283 pounds, ashy knees, distended belly, curling iron burns, and a broken finger nail me—cradled in the bosom of darkness.

Indeed, all of me—the skin I’m in, the truth of my sin—took refuge there in the dark folds of her body, an earshot away from blue-black lips that whisper, “Stay here with me until the Sunday when light comes to redeem us both.”

Denise Kingdom Grier headshot
Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier

The Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier lives in Holland, Michigan, and is the mobilization pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville and Grand Rapids, Michigan. She serves the Reformed Church in America as RCA Global Mission’s liaison to Setshabelo Family and Child Services in South Africa, where 30,000 orphans are finding loving homes within their community. She has been part of the RCA Women’s Transformation and Leadership guiding coalition since its inception and has helped give birth to Equity-Based Hospitality, Dismantling Racism, and the She is Called: Women of the Bible studies. Her work can be found at