Reflections on what is dark in us

“Maybe it is the dark and shadowy voices themselves that lead us to freedom.” – Mary Elyn Bahlert, November, 2015


I wrote those words in my last post.   A new thought: that the places of darkness in ourselves lead us to freedom.  It is the things we dislike, the problems, the pain, the depression, the unremembered memories, the things that have hurt us, that lead us into the light.

And isn’t that the way it is?  If we are in a dark hallway, we search with our hands for the light switch.  The darkness causes us to reach for the light.

If the darkness leads us into the light, then we give thanks, even for the darkness, for that is the One Who Saves, who leads us to freedom.  Without the pain in my own life, I would not have searched for the light.  Without the pain – had I only been in the dusk – I would not have searched frantically, and with earnestness, and with all of my resources, for the light.

But I did.

This is a post of hope.  The hope is this – and hope, hope is always complete, whole, not something fragile, but something strong – the hope is that we can be grateful, always, and with our whole selves, for those darker, shadowy, nagging parts of ourselves.  We can be grateful for the painful parts of ourselves.

I have seen it over and over again, this reaching for the light that comes from those who are in pain.  When I think of people who don’t seem to need the light, I think they  have not been awakened in the night by their pain, by their roiling minds, by their physical pain.  In a way, they are the ones who have not been given the gift of light.

In my own life, I have the great pleasure of having walked with People of the Light.  These are the people to whom I turn when I want to lay out myself as I am; to these people I give the gift of my doubts, my sorrows, my sadness, my longings that have not been fulfilled.  These are the people who listen, silently, and who nod, silently, as they listen.  These are the ones who can be trusted with my journey, my convoluted, circuitous, unclear journey.  These are the ones who do not offer me solutions.  Instead, they only give me the beauty of their presence.  They hold a place for my own darkness because they have witnessed that darkness in themselves.  And that is enough.

In its own way, the darkness is enough.

In the world, I see this darkness, of course.  And I see how we frantically try to get rid of the darkness, we put it out of sight, we kill it.  Then, it rises up again.  It rises up in all of us, for when we answer darkness with darkness, we only go further into the darkness, ourselves.  We have not turned to the light.  We have not wrestled the gift from the darkness.


Today, my heart is with the people of France, of Paris.  In this time of mourning, mourning for lost lives and for lost innocence, may they be comforted.  My prayer is that their leaders will lead them toward light, turn away from the darkness.