Blessing the Darkness
Last Saturday, in the northern hemisphere, we welcomed the summer solstice — our longest day of the year. That same night (or the next day, in most time zones), the world witnessed an annular solar eclipse — the kind that makes a “ring of fire.”
It’s strange to see so much light and so much darkness so close together, isn’t it?
But then, some would say an eclipse actually illuminates what is hidden in shadow, unveiling what we've banished from awareness. Some would say the darkness actually encourages us to turn inward, inviting us to a deeper way of seeing — a way of seeing that has more to do with our willingness to face ourselves than with the eyes in our head.
You see, some would say light and darkness actually go hand in hand.
Right now, our entire planet waits on a threshold. The future is dark — meaning, not one of us knows exactly where we’re headed, or what will happen next. In a sense, this has always been the case; only, now the trauma of a pandemic has shattered any illusion of certainty. In the same sense, racism and any number of systemic evils have always been both real and apparent; only, lately these evils have been exposed to the masses with overwhelming clarity. While our future seems shrouded, we’re being invited to a deeper way of seeing. We’re being invited — both individually and collectively — to face the truth about who we are, and how we came to be here. We’re being invited to contend with death in all its forms, and also with how we respond to it.
When it comes to the death of a world we once knew, our urge is to run — either forward or backward. Whichever way we scurry, the result is the same: we abort the hope of transformation. If we hope to imagine a better world, we cannot escape the darkness of unknowing; instead, we must learn to embrace it.
Many of us know and love transformation tales and myths; you know, the stories of heroes who venture into dark places — forbidden forests, enchanted castles, and wild, tempestuous seas. We admire these brave voyagers and wish to be like them; or at least, we think we do. The truth is, we’d rather not enter the dark wood, face the unseemly beast within the castle, or sail the great unknown to claim our treasure. We’re afraid of the dark, both outside and within, and we’re certain that to linger there would kill us. (In a manner of speaking, it will.) So, we’d rather hold tight to the light we have known than surrender to the darkness of unknowing.
But darkness and transformation go hand in hand. Darkness brings us face to face with all that is unseen: all we’ve lost, all that's never been, and all we hope to create. If we accept the invitation of darkness, to surrender to our grief and our longing, then we’ll come to know well the light that lives within us: the vision of a world that’s yet to be.
So, when your future looks dark and your vision is veiled, may you linger, and listen to your longing. May you dare to imagine the world you wish to see. And may you learn to bless the darkness.
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