Friday, November 30, 2007

Homage to Darkness

Last night there was a blackout. The entire neighborhood pitch-black except for headlights of cars that would occasionally come down the street. Sweet darkness? I was sitting in it for hours. Darkness and silence. No music, no computer, no telephone. Instead of being bummed, stressed or worried, I felt content. Even the creaks and groans of this 100 year old house did not scare me. I felt strangely protected by this unexpected enigmatic visitor. My plans to be creative- to write and to bead were not going to happen, but I did not mind. Obviously these sparks of creativity still needed to gestate. I would chant and meditate instead. I lit the few candles I could find and made a mental note to stock up on more candles for the future, and then I reflected on how wonderful it felt to be in the dark. In the dark-often used to mean not knowing or ignorance. We are always at some life juncture of not knowing, are we not? Our life journey is one of removing the layers of ignorance our conditioning imposes on us. I have sat in the dark with so many different aspects of my life for months, for years. But eventually, some piece is revealed and I can finally understand what the waiting was for. The outcome, sometimes different than what my ego had desired, but always a much better manifestation than anything my limited mind could have concocted.

It was not until I realized that I had no heat and the temperatures were dropping outside and in that I became at all concerned. So I took my flashlight and went into my backyard to collect any left over firewood I could find from our fire puja. There was not much, but I knew that one piece of wood would be enough for a flame to cast light into my living room and bring a bit of heat, albeit temporarily, into my space.

For days I have been thinking of the yoginis and yogis who spend their lives in caves high in the Himalayas. I have wondered about their meditations in the natural cycles of lightness and darkness. I have considered what it would mean to be at the mercy of the natural elements. I have questioned whether it is a path I could ever embrace in this life. In my younger years I could have done it (and did on a 15 month journey through Southeast Asia), but these days I have grown accustomed to certain physical comforts. And regardless, it is my dharma to be in this world as difficult as it can be. To embrace all that comes instead of running away. Same last night- I could have left and stayed at a friend's, but would I have wanted to miss out on this opportunity? I was being offered a Berkeley-esque cave experience from the comfort of my beautiful house-a far cry from a Himalayan cave! But darkness. Darkness is darkness regardless of where one is. Can we just be with it without judging it as bad or good? Can't it be honored for the mystery that is its essence? Enough of modernity's overemphasis on light- the light of "reason" and "rationality" and all the blatantly racist metaphors around light being positive, dark being negative. Time to reclaim this language and its effect on our consciousness! The dark is too often demonized. Painfully so. But it is the dark mother from Africa who is the oldest divinity on the planet (See Lucia Birnbaum's work). And it is the dark fertile soil that grows much of our food, and the dark night sky, body of the Cosmic Mother within which our planet spins and resides, the dark of our mother's wombs where our physical forms were created. And what about those studies on the consciousness of dark matter- perhaps scientific 'evidence' of our beloved Kali Maa?? And there is the dark night of the soul that, although ruthless and excruciatingly painful, frees us from our past habits, conditioning, and delusions. It is time we reclaim the dark. The so-called dark 'other', the darkness that we fear around us and especially in ourselves. What lurks in those shadows? Why have we given it our power? How can we take it back? Remember- the light cannot exist without the dark.

I have learned to love the darkness. In darkness we have to see with our hearts, with our intuition and not with our eyes. Things are not as they appear and we must learn to trust our bodies, not our minds to discern what is real and what is unreal. Whether we are plunged into darkness or choose to surrender to it, whether our artificial sources of light wane from a power outage, or depression obscures the passion of our hearts, the Mystery is always the same. Darkness is a place of transformative and generative power. We must only learn to BE with it. No judgment, little fear. Patience. Trust. Patience.


jessa walters said...

dear beautiful that you embraced the opportunity to BE in the let it enfold let it inspire and teach you....

"..the dark will be your womb tonight
the night will give you a horizon further than you can see..."
(david whyte)

i miss you.

jessa walters said...

i just scrolled down and read your following posts and whadda ya know - THERE IS DAVID WHYTE'S POEM!!!!!!
isn't that just the way it goes with you and i?!
i laughed and laughed!


mm said...

Mercy, i have just came upon your blog by chance, and can tell i am going to really enjoy your posts. Just this weekend in the middle of the country, i found myself in a similiar sitution of contemplating what it would be like to have a cave in Asia as i nestled down in my own small urban cave while "weaving within".