Into the Darkness


The days are still growing shorter, people in colder climates are dressing with warmer clothes, winter-proofing cars, and carefully navigating days when the temperature hovers around 32 degrees Farenheit. Here in the warmer climates, those of us who come from colder places have a longing for colder days!

This time of waiting – of waiting for the light, the longest night and shortest day, which will relentlessly move into longer days, one moment at a time – is a time, as I wrote in an earlier post, to go into the deeper, darker places of ourselves.

Maybe we do this naturally, without guidance. Many women in particular confide that as the days grow shorter, they do some “cocooning,” going inside, baking, cleaning the dark spaces in the house, taking care of things that in the sunshine days did not seem important. In this season of darkness, there is time and space for taking care of these things.

What do we find in those cobwebby, shadowy places in ourselves? We often find tears there. We discover grief, even grief that has been forgotten, or set aside. We may find things we didn’t ever want to see again. We find things we didn’t want to remember, perhaps. We see the faces and the memories of those who are no longer with us – how we wish we could see them again, one more time! Words may arise in us, things that were said; perhaps those unsaid things arise in our thoughts, as well. We have carried those unspoken words with us, hanging in the air between us and another.

When we go into the darkness of ourselves, we may find things we don’t want to find – or to see! We may discover some feelings we wish we didn’t have: jealousies, hates, fears, terrors. We may remember someone who abused us, someone who tried to keep us from becoming our truest selves, because their own dark places were never explored.

Or we find confusing things, things we will never understand.

Sometimes when we go inside ourselves, we may discover something with complete clarity, something we’ve always known. There, touching it again for the first time in many years, our knees on the hard wooden floor of our memory, we begin to see it glimmer. Maybe that clarity is something we need desperately, now. We are grateful.

During this season of this year, there is much talk about the system of racism that pervades us as a country, as a people. Liberal or conservative, socially progressive or longing for values that don’t seem to exist anymore, we seem to be having a conversation we have needed to have for a long time. We may be hopeful, we may find hope as a people in those under-belly places of our collective psyche, or we may find even more hopelessness than we have now. As you think about the happenings of these past few months, I invite you to listen to the Bill Moyers’ interview of journalist Ta-Nehisi as he frames the nation’s history of slavery and white supremacy in challenging terms.

Sometimes when we go within – as a people, as individuals – we may find unresolved things that cannot, will not be easily resolved. We may cry or shout or rage again and again, and this may never end.

It is interesting that this season of darkness that brings us face to face with the light is associated with hope. Maybe it’s more appropriate to call it Hope, with a big H. We all need this hope, and it’s something we can’t buy at the stores, at the busy malls. I think maybe Hope arises from that journey into the darkness.

“All shall be well, all shall be well, all shall be well.” Julian of Norwich, mystic.

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