To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
– Wendell Berry
These Wendell Berry lines have been banging around in my head for a few days. (fighting – or harmonizing – with Annie Lennox and the omnipresent Willy W, of course). I so agree with what he implies, with the notion that to really know the dark we have to surrender to it. We have to let our eyes adjust, which means we must go in without any external light. And that, in that darkness, there is a beauty that we never imagined.
Berry’s words make me think, first of all, about internal darkness. Of what it takes for us to really know the darkness there, to gaze into the ragged hole that exists in the center of all of our souls, to push on the bruise, to feel the wound. Perhaps ironically, for me, I have often described the feeling of that intense darkness as staring into the sun. It has been the focus of the last months of my life, for sure: relenting in my frantic white-knuckled attempts to control, accepting the way it is and in so doing releasing my desperate focus on the way I wanted it to be.
It has only been when I have really let myself lean into that darkness, accept that my deepest wound is the profound sadness of impermanence, that I’ve started seeing the gifts that are there. As I sink into the way my life actually is, everyday I find unexpected gems buried in the mundane. Sure, I also cry a lot more. Every single day I face the truth that this is the last day that my baby will be 5, the last time I’ll have a Beginner, the last, the last, the last. I grieve and mourn constantly, far more than I imagined possible.
But there’s also beauty here. Surprising, staggering, serendipitous beauty. Divinity buried in the drudgery. Dark feet and dark wings.