Posted by: smstrouse | November 5, 2010

Sometimes It’s OK to Be in the Dark

I have always mourned the end of summer. Joni Mitchell’s lyrics in ‘Urge for Going” have long been my lament:  I’d like to call back summertime and have her stay for just another month or so.

Maybe it’s because I lived for so long in Buffalo, NY.  I could never appreciate the fall foliage that everyone oohs and ahs over – because I knew what was coming.  Not only was it getting darker, but colder, and ultimately snowier.

So what’s my excuse now that I live in California, where we’ve been enjoying wonderful summer-like weather?  Well, it’s still getting darker earlier and we’re about to leave Daylight Saving Time and enter even more fully into the darkness of wintertime.

This year I’m going to try something different, though. I’ve been thinking about the value of darkness, the spiritual grace of entering into a deeper, more contemplative time – going inward into unknowing and uncertainty, yet being held in a velvet embrace.

Christian mystics such as Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross knew this. So who am I to doubt their wisdom? Even though it may seem counterintuitive to us as Christians who sing ‘I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light’ and believe in Christ the ‘Light of the world, the Light no darkness can overcome.’  We are programmed to turn toward the light and shun the darkness.

Yet Rumi wrote:
Life’s waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness, don’t run from it.

I believe that darkness and light need not be mutually exclusive (when will we learn to do away with our dualisms?).  We can move in and out of sun and shade, womb and world, extrovert and introvert.  Perhaps, though, I am now being invited into taking more womb time than I’ve been used to, searching the darkness instead of running from it, celebrating it instead of lamenting. Perhaps you are too.

Would I be so eager to embrace the lengthening night if I were still in Buffalo? Granted, it might be more of a challenge. It’s so much easier (for me anyway) to enjoy the night sky when it’s 65 degrees.  In any event, when the clocks ‘fall back’ this weekend, I will turn in my Joni Mitchell for Thomas Merton, who wrote:
Only in the night
Are all the lost Found.

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