Darkness and Light
For there to be a shadow light must be cast onto an image. That is not a profound statement but often when we are experiencing a period of darkness we wonder when the light might appear again. In times of political unrest, economic duress, and growing hostility towards others—one could wonder if the light of truth and hope will ever shine again. We do not live in endless light nor darkness but apparently for humans to progress strife is part of the process as Martin Luther King, Jr suggests:
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable . . . Every step toward a goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
I have to admit that sometimes I tire of the struggle. It is then that I remind myself that there has never been a time in history when visionary people have not sought growth and improvement in society and even risked their lives to create change. They went before us holding an Ideal of freedom and laid the groundwork for our current status. We can’t grow without suffering as Viktor E. Frankl proposes:
If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
Our hearts get broken, our dreams get shattered, our friendships and relationships unravel, and our best intentions get blighted. We weep, gnash our teeth, and pray for succor from some divine Source—seeking an end to darkness, as temporary as it might be. Of course we can’t just walk away from our experiences. The vulnerability created calls for deeper exploration into ourselves; into the depths of darkness. It’s not comforting or enjoyable but inevitable.
Recently I’ve been pondering the value of darkness—not because of some macabre obsession—but because it is so universal. Darkness is never convenient but it is natural. With darkness we are plunged into despair and find ourselves more vulnerable than we could ever imagine. As we walk through our narrow tunnel learning lessons and growing from the experiences we arrive on the other side in refined light.
It’s the light of love and beauty and goodness. Through the pain we are somehow redeemed and feel liberated. We are charged with a renewed vitality to begin again. Our generous space is a collective breath of healing. So, it’s not just for ourselves.
As vulnerable and wrecked as we might feel we have the potential to meet our true essence—David Whyte puts it this way:
Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is a vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others.
If you think about it when certain seeds are thrown into dark soil they eventually bloom into beautiful flowers. A waxing moon grows brighter and fuller through its 29 day phase. The buds on trees turn to leaves to bring forth a lushness of greenery in the spring. Nature goes through cycles and so do we.
Like Maria Rainer Rilke: “I have faith in nights.”
Pentatonix - The Sounds of Silence