We must recover the truth that was obscured by the Serpent: rather than being like God in his unlimited divinity, we are to be like God in our limited humanity. We are capable of bearing his image as we were intended only when we embrace our limits. Image-bearing means becoming fully human, not becoming divine. It means reflecting as a limited being the perfections of a limitless God. Our limits teach us the fear of the Lord.
Jen Wilkin, None Like Him (25)
I do not want to admit I am a limited human being. Certainly, my behaviour too frequently shows how much I do not want to embrace my limits. In fact, I often find my perfectionist self ranting at my vulnerable self, piling on expectations of not being ‘good enough’, of not doing it ‘right’. In this way, I can very quickly self-sabotage my creative self, gassing her, stifling my Artist Child, plunging her over the cliff edge into the formless void.
This tohu vabohu is the shadowy place of overwhelm: where I see nothing, envision nothing, care about nothing.
And yet … Rilke’s words remind me that God is in this place too:
… Do you hear them?
Hear them you surely must, because they cry …
Whom to call,
if not the one darkest of all,
more night than night? The only one so fearless
that he will watch without a lamp; a depth
so deep no light falls far enough to mar it …
from ‘I am the very me, scared’ Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours/ Book of Pilgrimage
(trans. Susan Ranson)
So if I do want to live a fear-filled life, if I want to be overwhelmed by Joy, and not by grief and loss and pain and disappointment: can I reintroduce colour into my murkiness? I ask myself: what is the colour of grief? What is the colour of overwhelm?
I think of the midnight blueblack night skies the Mages spent so long studying. Last year, whilst in hospital, this colour became a symbol for the self-trust I recognised was so lacking in me. This year, the colours of night reflected back over a desert, seem to suggest an inky indigo which is without end. Not a void, but an eternal teeming space, full of mystery and wonder. If I look in this direction, Joy might found in such darkness.
The dark lintels, the blue and foreign stones
of the great round rippled by stone implements
the midsummer night light rising from beneath
the horizon—where I said “a cleft of light”
I meant this. And this is not Stonehenge
simply nor any place but the mind
casting back to where her solitude,
shared, could be chosen without loneliness,
not easily nor without pains to stake out
the circle, the heavy shadows, the great light.
I choose to be the figure in that light,
half-blotted by darkness, something moving
across that space, the color of stone
greeting the moon, yet more than stone:
a woman. I choose to walk here. And to draw this circle.
’21 love poems: XXI’
half blotted by darkness. iPhone image.