Art by Tracy Oliver via Pinterest
Art by Tracy Oliver via Pinterest

“Let go of your story so the universe can write a new one for you.” – Marianne Williamson

Darkness on the Edge of Town

We grow up — many of us — afraid of the dark.

We are afraid of the sometimes dark imaginings of our dreams, waking and sleeping.

We feel uncertain of ourselves, vulnerable to the forces of life, susceptible to the sharp knives of our friends and our lovers, our families and our history.

Darkness makes us dream. The night conjures the love we imagine is possible as we sit under a sea of stars. It makes the world seem mysterious and maddening.


Why are we afraid of the dark? 

It scares us. It calls us to dive into the depths of our lives in a way that reminds us we are not as powerful and all-knowing as we sometimes pretend to be.

The darkness is where our spiritual work naturally takes place. It is a profound teacher, but like the image of the angel of death, not always a welcome one.

We are often called by darkness — called out into life, called out into the middle of a maelstrom, called out to become more open, more pliable, more able to stretch. For many of us, that’s profoundly uncomfortable.


So, why take this stressful journey? Why dance with the dark?

The simple answer is that’s where the juice of life, is. It rests in the dark night of the soul.


We marinate in darkness for whole nine months of our gestation prior to birth.

We return to that black nothingness each night so we may visit dreamland and rebuild our bodies and our minds. Sleep is a kind of death.We embrace our dark angels while we rest. We also visit others who’ve passed over –  our sisters, fathers, grandmothers; the marmalade cat we loved so much.

Darkness is the first stop on our spiritual journey. We fall into the night inside our soul in order to grow, to grieve, to strengthen our resolve. The dark night happens when we’ve, perhaps, gotten off track and need a course correction. So, we drink too much and fall face first in the street. We wake up — bloodied and sorry — in the ER. Or we lose our jobs. Or we lose our child, our mother, our father. Someone commits suicide and we are left with the last thing we said to them ringing in our ears: “Are you OK?  Do you need me to come over?”

We bury our animals. We watch our homes burn. We imagine we’ll marry and yet no one ever asks. The children we thought we’d have are never born. That house where we dreamed we’d live, stands empty.

There are more roads into darkness than there are stars in the sky.


“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~ Mary Oliver

Darkness always contains gifts. No sorrow comes without an equal measure of joy. It may not be obvious to the casual observer, but it is there.

The thing is, in order to find the gift, we must fully accept the darkness. The death, loss, car wreck, accident, divorce, breakdown. We must be swallowed by it, devoured whole.

However, when we allow it to take us, completely, we eventually experience a rebirth.

We see “the cracks in everything,” as Leonard Cohen aptly sang, and we suddenly know that’s “how the light gets in.”

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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