The Dark Night

“The first fingers of light appear on the horizon, and ever so deftly and gradually, they pull the mantle of darkness away from the world.”

John O’Donohue - Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

There are times when life so overwhelms us with grief, pain, fear, and loss that we don’t think we will survive. Some do not, and there is no room for judgement or criticism, only mercy and compassion. I have not inhabited their hearts, only my own, and the only reference I have is my own experience of being plunged into darkness, not knowing when even the faintest glimmer of light will appear.

In those dark nights, we are alone with our own hearts. No matter how much love and support we have surrounding us, no one can make our way for us as we wait for the light to appear. Others may walk with us, but they cannot walk for us. Others may help us bear our burden, but ultimately it is ours to carry. But the treasures of our darkness belong to us. Whatever we discover in the blackness of our night has the capacity to transform us in ways only possible when we have found our way to the dawn of our new day.

In the darkness, while we find ourselves alone, we would do well to remember that we bring with us all of our hard earned resources. Any strength, wisdom, faith, grace, and love that we have accumulated thus far will be our faithful companions, and will sustain us through the night. In her book, Learning To Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor says, “…I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really on one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

I’ve often wondered if the power that brought the world into being knew that we would need to find hope for a return of the light on a daily basis. That there is a deeper meaning behind the daily cloaking of the world in darkness, so that once again, we can be reminded of the illuminating light that is sure to follow.