day 11

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

Yesterday I wondered how the dark matter of my life might be a source of joy.  Today I find myself wondering about ‘dark light’, which Wikipedia defines as:

Dark light (vision) or eigengrau, the color seen by the eye in perfect darkness. Dark light, a theoretical force that only interacts with dark matter.

The dark places in my life still have colour.  They maybe full of deeply uncomfortable, painful, terrifying, traumatic memories, but they are not beyond the power of transformation.  As ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) creator Steven Hayes says, ‘There is as much life in a moment of pain as in a moment of joy.’

Too often though, I am paralysed by what lies in my darkness, a deep unconscious fear prevents me seeing this life, prevents me from flourishing.  This New Year’s Day reflection from Keren Dibbens-Wyatt speaks to the nature of shadows:

How long the darkness falls now from the past and the yet to come!  Here at the gates of beginning, starting over, we feel the desire to let our monsters tear themselves away and walk slowly off into the night leaving us puffing our cheeks full of sighs, free to begin again, and yet soon, too soon, the pressure of needing to Get It Right This Time overtakes us.  The lengthening stretch of our potential obscures the gravel before us … but perhaps we might stop and remember we can ask to be led.  We can watch the light increase … For if our silhouettes were not constantly thrown before us, we would not have a following light, or we would find ourselves stripped of what is anyway declining, distraught like Peter Pam, forever chasing our own darkness and wanting to stitch it back on. 

(‘Day 274: Shadows’, Garden of God’s Heart, Keren Dibbens-Wyatt (274))

God’s light may appear to be only dark light to my fear-filled eyes, but Rilke reminds me that ’to you, and to evening, and the poets/things darkest run clear’ (from ‘You are Cloister to the Stigmata’, Book of Pilgrimage, Rilke. trans Susan Ranson).  Even when I feel I am only filled to the brim with murkiness, where no light shines, where no light could penetrate, I can remember: I am not dark to God; even dark is not dark to God.  Although I cannot see it, there is life here.  I can rest in this.  I can close my eyes.  I can find comfort.  I can choose joy even in the darkest of darks.  And that joy will hold me in safety so I can pray:

Make me your holy darkness, your blessed night.  Transform me into a great silence that drowns out distracting noises.  Fashion me into one who sees with the eyes of the soul.  I long to be a protective mantle of comforting darkness for all who need rest.  Give me insight into the Holy Mystery that cradles me through the night.

 – O make of me your night prayer.

(Macrina Wiederkehr, ‘Litany of the Hours’ from Seven Sacred Pauses (177-179))

Listen to Velma Frye sing Macrina Wiederkehr’s lyric ‘O comforting darkness’

The arms of darkness hold us,

Revealing now how dear we are.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

Enfold us and hold us.

Inform us, transform us.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

Surround us, all around us,

And hold our light, like sky to star.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

dark light fall. iPhone image.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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