Opening to Darkness
Spring is a very tender time in my life; perhaps it is for you as well. A time of blossoming, birth and resurrection, Springtime truly became all of that for me when my son, Matthew, was born into our family on a late April morning - just weeks after Easter and with Mother's Day quickly approaching. Sandwiched between celebrations, his birth blessed us all with another, very personal and real reason to mark the Springtime season as celebratory. But then, life, as it is wont to do, changed its course without my permission, and I am left with less celebration. Since Matthew's death, April and May, such wondrous times in our seasonal calendar, take on a life seemingly independent of my hopes, often dragging me with them to uncomfortable places. I find some years easier than others; this year has not been one of those.
I am beginning to understand one of the reasons this season finds me struggling so hard to stand upright and easily through this spring is the acceptance of a gift. A friend suggested to the director of our church's Adult Education ministry that she and I facilitate a book for an adult group and, having read the book earlier and finding it interesting, I accepted the invitation. I could have said no; I could have asked that we do it another time; I should have realized that this particular book at this particular time was a set up for introspection and memory - but I didn't think - I said yes. This struggle my "yes" caused continues to be my gift.
Rereading and facilitating with and for others the work of Barbara Brown Taylor using her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, has stopped me in my tracks and forced me to deal once again with the fragility and strength of one's common life. To quote Taylor, "Darkness is shorthand for anything that scares me - either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out." And therein starts our conversations.
I am re-learning to walk in darkness, but a dark that I now understand as softer with shades and shadows that hold light and life. This Springtime is easier today because I believe blind prisoner of war, Jacques Lusseyran, who professed in And There Was Light, that in the very midst of dark is light which cannot be turned off without one's own consent. So, this is me sitting in the darkness of my Spring, finally appreciating what it can teach me while I slowly allow shades of light to appear.