advent apertures 2019: day 12

Not the profound dark

night of the soul

 

and not the austere desert

to scorch the heart at noon,

grip the mind

in teeth of ice at evening

 

but gray,

a place

without clear outlines,

 

the air

heavy and thick

 

the soft ground, clogging

my feet if I walk,

sucking them downwards

if I stand.

 

Have you been here?

Is it

 

a part of human-ness

 

to enter

no man’s land?

 

I can remember

(is it asking you

that

makes me remember?)

even here

 

the blesséd light that caressed the world

before I stumbled into

this place of mere

non-darkness.

 

‘Oblique Prayer’

Denise Levertov

Sometimes deliberately seeking the shadows is what brings relief, shelter from the hot sun, relaxation for taut eye muscles straining to see detail in the face of bright glare. I can gaze from the shadows out into the sunlit places, and the contrast helps define what I am looking for.  Colour and shape reappear, and as my wonder at the difference between ‘over’/‘out’ there and ‘in’ here increases, so does my capacity for wondering why I don’t allow myself to do this more often. 

Am I too often a noontide and midnight person? It is just possible that sometimes intentionally seeking the dark places, the Holy Darkness, might reveal what the Light holds before me.

To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away… That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost… The word “lost” comes from the Old Norse los, meaning the disbanding of an army, and this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world. I worry now that many people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know. Advertising, alarmist news, technology, incessant busyness, and the design of public and private space conspire to make it so… There’s another art of being at home in the unknown, so that being in its midst isn’t cause for panic or suffering, of being at home with being lost… Lost [is] mostly a state of mind, and this applies as much to all the metaphysical and metaphorical states of being lost as to blundering around in the backcountry.

The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.

from review of Rebecca Solnit’s A field guide to getting lost

Maria Popova, Brainpickings

on the surface (bl)on the surface. Canon 7D. f13. 1/100. ISO 640.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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