"Even The Bright Beautiful Moon Has Its Dark Side Which It Keeps Hidden All The Time....”
― Muhammad Imran Hasan
When I was a young boy the dark night was a terrifying reality, the unseen realm often enflaming my imagination with illusory possibilities that would rarely seem to eventuate. And while I was often reminded by those older than me that there was nothing to fear it didn’t stop me from constantly looking over my shoulder or hiding under the blankets. It seemed that I was much safer with the reassuring clarity that the dawn would unveil. The warmth of sister sun was a more comfortable reality than the moodiness of brother moon. It took me well into my adult life to realise that the light didn't actually dispense my fears but merely held them in check until I faced them again and made friends with their part to play in my maturation.
The natural darkness that comes to me in real time is Creation's sign of how life is counter balanced with light and dark, in order to support and sustain the rich place that mystery needs as it teaches me how to trust and reach out for help. Ironically, my introduction to religion did its best to demonise the darkness, somehow extricate it from my heart and mind all the while promoting God as its oppositional force that was only interested in coherence, lucidity, and certainty for my spiritual development. Religions uncomfortable connection with the natural world has often set it at odds with one another, reinforcing a dualistic mindset that lives in an opposing world of antithetical contrast. Reconnecting with nature has helped me to come to a beautiful realisation that my unfounded fears and doubts are actually an important part of the human experience that I need to listen to.
One particular question that often reverberates in my mind is….'What is darkness saying and doing in your life right now and how do I learn to listen to its wisdom'?
Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain, Still remains
Within the sound of silence. Songwriter: Paul Simon
The darkness we feel inside is a mix of emotion and frustration that occurs when we are unable to control outcomes or manage our own well-being in a way that seems appropriate. We flounder in the space of ‘not knowing’; what to do or how to change things in order be more comfortable in our own skin. While there are a myriad of helpful support structures out there that can assist us on our journey we owe it to ourselves to build a bigger inner world of self assurance and awareness that enables grace to do its work in us. When St Paul was struggling with his dark moment (thorn in the flesh…whatever that was?) the reassurance of God within came to give him the grace to cope. Cope not cure. Maybe coping is the cure for most of us? Whatever the case it’s not exactly an answer that we would have liked if it was us.
Grace is the silent partner of God that arrives to sustain us in our time of need rescuing our minds from the catastrophizing that so easily occurs in these intolerable situations.
Silence is not the absence of sound but the calming presence of the transcendent that comes to grace our life with reassurance and hopefulness. Its volume is the deep hum of reconstitution that sees our darkness as an attractive friend.
Learning to listen for her arrival will ease your insecurities and remind you that are not alone in your dark night of the soul.