So many of my fears stem from ideas I have made up, ungrounded in reality as I’ve experienced it. If there is an inkling of my lived experience behind it, it is only that, a filament of some thought that I have grown into a full fledged Thing on my own.
Darkness is like that for me. I can walk in the darkness and think up all kinds of terrifying thoughts that would have me turn on my heels back to the nearest light source. I can feel that way, too, about the shadows of my inner landscape. Discomfort? Anger? Pain? No thanks! I’ll turn the other way and try to wish them away.
It turns out that, for me, wishing doesn’t make it so.
What do I notice when I continue my walk through darkness? Sounds. I notice sounds all around that usually go unremarked. Whether it’s the sound of my own steps, the wind rustling leaves, creatures scurrying, other humans, sounds become amplified.
I notice my thoughts too. I am so quick to make assumptions about what could be making certain sounds, so quick to see something in the shadows, to perceive a threat.
The same is true for my inner landscape. How painful pain can be! I judge it, make assumptions about it and myself and others. I try to look away, distract myself, seek escape. By acknowledging the discomfort, asking for help, seeking and receiving sound guidance, and taking right action, I can face my deepest fears in the light of my awareness. I get to appreciate how the fears get made in me, and I get to disassemble them and look at the component parts… then practice walking through them.
This time of year reminds me of the beauty of the nocturnal. Our planet is now tilted at the maximum angle away from the home star we call Sun. As we spin and speed around our life-giving star, we are — as part of a solar system, part of a galaxy, part of a web of galaxies, and even greater web of cosmic matter infinitely unfolding and revealing itself to our curiosity— made of light and dark. That great space that we dwell in, that outlasts all that we’ve known and will ever know, that infinitely creative power that gives rise to us and all that Is… that space is dark, light travels through it, the space itself is dark. We come from the darkness and to it we return in a beautiful, unending mystery.
To fear the darkness is to fear the air I breathe, the matter that I’m made of, the context for all that is and will ever be. Space is infinite and so is darkness. Let me hold out my hands tonight, soften my heart, quiet my thinking mind, and invite my awareness of what is present to accompany me for the walk of a lifetime.