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Grace for the Dark

Lately, I’ve been honored to listen quietly to four different women whose lifestyles include separate, but extremely difficult and uncomfortable spaces. One’s child, one’s husband, one’s changing lifestyle, and one’s very life are each in jeopardy. What they have in common is that each is living with a heart-aching need to somehow learn how to reset, to feel prepared to peacefully move into the unpredictability of an unknown future, into an ending of their Now . . . into the dark.

I gladly listened to each because I understand the dark. And, though I learned some of my answers by prowling my own dark spaces, my friends’ conversations weren’t about me. No advice or questions or answers were expected, only tender attention to their heartaches . . . a bit of offered grace.

Their rhetorical questions were common with mine as I headed into the dark: “What’s happened to my life?” “Who am I in this situation?” “What now?” Such questions take courage, the courage whose roots stem from Cor, the Latin for Heart. It takes the heart’s courage to ask those kinds of big and essential questions, to look them in the face and wallow in the muddy places that hold them, searching for answers. For it is such bravery that eventually clears enough room for the whispers of compassionate grace to enter a breaking heart.

It was when my life was its most shadowed and bleak that I realized I had to accept something I loved had ended, and surrender to the inevitable changes of an unpredictable future. In time, my conversations with myself, both heart and mind, opened me to some gracious tools for my own resetting work. It sounded something like this:

“Jane, just slow down!! Breathe! And breathe again, slowly and deeply. Give your imagination some room to see kindness and beauty. Accept this ending; it has always been beyond your control. Surrender to what is, to whatever fills this dark space around and within you. Breathe in that surrender, slowly, deeply. Soften your heart; let it open for different possibilities to enter. Believe in your ability to move beyond this chaos. Believe that grace is waiting in this opening.”

And it was . . . with its gifts of forgiveness, mercy, compassion and peace, lighting my way onward.

My best hope now is that my conversations in the dark might help you discover the light of your own grace-filled answers.

Always remember, you are loved.




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