Magic, Madness, and Mistakes

Sherlock Stark via Tumblr

Sherlock Stark via Tumblr

A – Z Challenge – Day 13

Life is meant to be lived.

Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about making mistakes — as if we could actually make our way through all the rooms of life without mucking things up a few (thousand) times.

We pretend we’re wheelin’ and dealin’ our way through our days, smooth as a god damn Santana song.

Uh-huh.

Keep telling that tall tale.  How’s that workin’ for you? 

Most of the time, instead of the supposed perfection we’re cooking up, we’re actually fumbling around making a beautiful mess of pretty much everything.

I keep reminding myself:

Mistakes are part of the gig.

Magic.

Sleight of hand. Tricksters. Laying all our cards on the table.  

Or not.

Good Madness.

Let’s whip up some down-home nuttiness, some certifiable crazy.  

If we always color inside the lines, we will never see where anything might take us.

The road not taken and all that.

Don’t be afraid to stretch.  Don’t carry a compass.  Instead, stick a pin in a map and see where you land.

Fall down the rabbit hole.

Revel in a musky nest.

Every one of us needs several side orders of tasty, truly toe-curling love-bird kisses with ‘someone who thinks [we're] wonderful.’

I know I sure do.

Celebrate. It. All.

Life is a big powder keg of bad-ass surprises.  Especially now.

Life should be all that and more. Let’s kiss and go out walking in the rain.

Time for joy. Time for silence and the sweetness of birds.  Time for truffles dusted with cocoa.  

Time to dial it down and drink it all up.

Every. Last. Drop.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Love the Earth

Quaking_Aspen,_Mount_Moran,_Grand_Tetons,_Wyoming

Wallpaper of Quaking Aspen, Mount Moran, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” ― Howard Zinn

The A – Z Challenge – Day Twelve

LOVE THE EARTH

Today, I am thinking about two little boys.

They just turned four and they are full of delight, joy, and curiosity. The world is a marvelous place to them – filled with unexpected and hilarious surprises – sort of like the prizes they find in cracker jack boxes.

They love the evergreens that surround their house. They love their their parents and they love each other with an intensity that is usual, I suppose, for twins. They love their grandmother. They love their stuffed lion, elephant, cow, sheep and giraffe, the inanimate friends that crowd their beds and watch them as they sleep. They love Dr. Suess. They love drawing pictures and learning to blow bubbles in the swimming pool.

These precious boys deserve a better world than the one we’re leaving them.

They deserve clean air and rivers silver with sunlight.

All children growing up today deserve something better than this.

Have we no shame? No sense of moral responsibility? How can we possibly pass this mess onto their small shoulders?

After all, it is our mess.

***

DEATH & REBIRTH

This year Earth Day and Easter coincide.

There is an astrological aspect that is forming in the heavens this week that promises to initiate huge, societal changes, long overdue. If you aren’t feeling its heavy footprints, you simply aren’t paying attention.

Everything will be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. Society will be turned inside out and sent through the wash cycle.

Why?

Because we’ve built a world that reveres only money and treats the environment like a sewer. We love profit but we hate people.

It’s sick.

We wait to fix systemic problems until after the roof caves in, the mountain top slides onto homes, or the bridge falls into the river, dumping cars into the swiftly moving current.

We drill for oil, use millions of gallons of life-sustaining water to do so, and produce only finite amounts of shale gas as a result. The kicker is that the waste from that process is so toxic, everything within miles of pools holding it, dies.

We call this progress.

I call it crazy.

It is insane to burn your only home to the ground because someone offered you money to do so.

I ask you, where do you plan to live once you are holding the keys to a pile of ash? Where will you go when the last fish has been caught, the last great tree cut?

Will you eat your money?

The Earth is Our Mother

We will wither without our mother, our home.

***

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.                                                                                                                                                                      ~ Walt Whitman

***

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

~ Ancient American Indian Proverb

Dismiss whatever insults your soul.

For the sake of those beautiful boys, we must solve this.

Their bright faces tell me they’ve got gifts to bestow.

Will we leave them a world that can support life?

What we do over the next few months and years, serves as our answer.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Kindred Spirits

Image by Katie Daisy via Tumblr

Image by Katie Daisy via Tumblr

“Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.”- Rainer Maria Rilke

A – Z Challenge – Day 11

BIRD BY BIRD.

What exactly is a kindred spirit?

Birds of a feather?  The yin to our yang?

In a word, yes.

Have you ever met someone — someone whom you immediately felt a familiar tug — a shock of recognition the first time you saw them? Have you sat across the table from them laughing easily and openly within hours of meeting them, certain your souls bonded in a previous lifetime, as ridiculous as that might sound to some people? (I believe in reincarnation, so it seems absolutely plausible to me.)

These days, finding a kindred soul — or more than one — is crucial. It is a means of surviving the onslaught of changes currently swallowing the world.

My ‘kin’ help me unpack my experiences. They are the ones with whom I am my most secret self.

Right now, we desperately need our team – whether human, animal, or angel. We need that rare band of brothers and sisters who feel like family the moment we meet.

FRIENDS ARE THE FAMILY WE CHOOSE.

As an introvert and an empath it is particularly important that I have a few well- chosen souls to feather my nest.

I don’t have (and I don’t need) a large number of friends.

What I need is a few I can count on.

And that, I have.

I am rich with close kin: family I have chosen, family I was born into, and more family I’ve gathered along the way.

MY KINDRED KIN.

Those for whom I feel affinity cause my blood to burn and my bones to stretch. It is those profound souls who are kindred to me.

We are each dazzling light workers here to help each other walk our authentic path through life.

We are here to encourage each other: Be a light. Be a change-agent. Be a voice in the darkness that leads someone else home.

We all need kindred spirits to help us find our way.

We all need those souls whose kindness helps us navigate these black nights. We live for those whose assurances help us see ourselves not as we are, but as all we can be.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Jubilee

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Cloud Spiral Himalaya via Tumblr

A – Z Challenge – Day 10

Spreading Joy, Offering Release

I don’t know about you, but it seems high time that we consider embracing the idea of celebrating a Jubilee.

The concept of universal pardon and forgiveness seems like a really good idea right about now.

Perhaps we should carefully consider letting ourselves off the hook, forgiving debts, opening hearts and doors, and freeing ourselves from the shackles of the stresses of modern life. Perhaps we should embrace wild celebration, remembering at long last the joy of simply being alive.

Jubilee historically offered just that: respite and relief.

In defining what Jubilee traditionally means, Wikipedia states, “In Judaism and Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fiftieth year, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.”

***

What Might Happen?

What would happen if all debt was erased, all doors opened, and all those in bondage were freed?

Would the world stop turning?

Not likely. If debt was cancelled, it would simply mean that everyone previously bound by the status quo would have the freedom to suddenly make radically different choices.

Iceland had the right idea after the financial crisis of 2009. Instead of punishing its citizens for the actions of corrupt politicians and national and international bankers, it fired them all; then it indicted, tried and jailed the guilty; started a new national bank, and forgave all debt. Six years later, Iceland’s economy thrives. Regular people sought out the political and civic offices previously held by the elite. The country is in better shape than it was before the crisis.

And the sky didn’t fall.

The people took on their own power, refusing to believe any longer in the story they’d been told about how the world works.

I’ve Seen That Movie, Too.

Clearly, the way things are going is not the way they should be. Our actions and interactions should enhance life on earth, not destroy it.

We cannot continue to buy into the collective nightmare we’ve been sold. It is a sham.

I want a world with clean air and water. I want a world where babies are not ingesting petrochemicals when they breast feed. I want a world without Frankenfood. I want to know that if I serve chicken to my family, that that particular bird was not tortured for the entirety of its all too short life.

These are just a few examples of the wrong turns society took over the last fifty years.

Time for Jubilee

It is not too late to change course.

This world is the ‘collective movie’ our subconscious and conscious minds project onto it. If we change ourselves, if we become visionaries and dreamers instead of slaves and worker bees, the movie we see will inevitably and drastically change overnight.

We have so much power. We can tell ourselves a new story.

We can do anything. Even this.

***

Jubilee written and sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=937sByt9M4E

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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The Ink of Impermanence

Image by Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra

Image by Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra

A – Z Challenge – Day 9

Where do these moments flee?

“Eventually, everything goes away.” ― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

I often lament the ephemeral nature of life.

The feeling is especially acute when it comes to members of my family and my pets. Part of me is like a child perpetually asking why.

Why is the sky blue? Why did Nana die? Why can’t the cat live forever? Why did Daddy have to go?

We are tattooed – marked for life – by our affection for things that will not live long.

Everything reeks of impermanence: our colorful, fleeting meals; our luminous young faces; our sweat-soaked feelings of lust or love…

We cannot manage stasis and still grow and stay alive.

So, the years peel away and pick at us. Inside, we feel exactly the way we did at 16 or 20 or 30. Outside, we gradually sag and gray. We earn the faces we deserve. We prune up and pickle. We are wizened and — at the same time, if we are lucky — we are filled with wonder.

The fact that nothing lasts is what gives life value. If something is finite, it becomes precious, a pearl beyond price.

Not Older, Better

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.” ― W. Somerset Maugham

Why does this make a lump rise in my throat? 

I want to eat up my life like ants swarming over a warm cake. I want to burn through it and see it etched into my skin. I want to remember its ephemeral nature, and squeeze out every drop.

Animal Dreams

Animals live each day in exactly that way.  They live for the moment, nothing more.

Our pets ask for love and food and care — but they don’t worry about a thing — even getting their needs met. They don’t bother themselves with the possibility of sickness or aging or death. They simply awaken each day with a sense that this is it.

This.

And when their days come to a close, they make their exit, eager to see what is beyond this 3-D world.

They seem to inherently understand that all life is energy and energy cannot die.

Fall Into Wonder

All life is impermanent and fragile. We will one day shuffle across the river of death and find ourselves on another, less familiar shore.

I am comforted by the fact that I don’t believe we can, or will be, erased from the book of life. We simply change boats and head out again.

We find new companions and constant familiars, perhaps another glossy dog, panting excitedly beside us. We learn to walk and sing and take risks. And always, there is someone — a mother, a lover, a friend — helping us to remember the simple pleasures of life.

This glistening river.

We can swim here and drag our fingers through the water, but we cannot hold the current as it rushes by.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Heaven and Hell

Paradiso Canto 31 by Gustav Dore

Paradiso Canto 31 by Gustav Dore

A – Z Challenge – Day 8

Right Here, Right Now

The typical Christian notion of hell as a place where the sinners, hellions, and hypocrites among us go after they die, in order to roast in a burning fire pit forevermore, is humorous to me.

As if.

As if we need to travel that far to find hell.

Turn on the T.V. if you want to visit hell. Go to a prison. Walk through the South side of Chicago. Visit Calcutta or Hiroshima or the shanty towns outside Johannesburg. Look into the eyes of a child growing up around violence. Look into the face of a child who is hungry or homeless or cold.

Go to the V. A. Hospital or talk to a veteran about his war experience.

If you had any doubt beforehand, you won’t after talking to someone who is suicidal and afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Hell is right here, right now.

***

As a Buddhist, I believe hell is a life condition or life state.

Why is this distinction important?

Hellish people attract other people in a state of hell. Like attracts like. So, the deeper your suffering — and your focus on that suffering — the more likely it is that you will find yourself absolutely surrounded by whiners and complainers, depressives and drags.

“When you complain, you become a giant, living, breathing crap magnet.” ~ Vishen Lakhiani

Hell exists. I see it as a brutal, gut-wrenching guru. It instructs me to master my mind, rather than let my mind master me. It cautions me to be careful what I believe. Whatever the hell I am thinking is true, is not necessarily so. The life condition of hell wants me to grow. It longs for me to become a better human being.

Put simply, hell is a reflection of our hellish inner life. When we change that inner state, we can easily walk straight out of it.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Not that it is easy to make that sort of transformation. Especially in a world that loves fear and anger and negativity and strife as much as this one does.

Heaven. I’m in Heaven.

There’s a Buddhist parable that discusses the difference between mere mortals and Buddhas. When a mortal sees the Ganges river, he or she might simply see a dirty, polluted river.  However, when a Buddha sees the Ganges — where pilgrims wash and babies are baptized and ashes are sent to heaven — he sees ‘amrita’ or the water of the gods.

Same river.

When We Change, The World Changes

The lens through which we watch the world, colors and tempers the world we see. So as we raise our life condition through Buddhist practice, we gradually see the world as a lighter, brighter, more hospitable place. The world we’re viewing is essentially the same. What is different is us.

We live in the Buddha land. We can transform our surroundings simply by uncovering and revering the part of us that is divine and pure and beautiful. We all possess it.

Even monsters and maniacs, dictators and devils. We may have to bring in a backhoe to dig it up, but it is there.

So, when I see someone in a condition of deep suffering, I feel compassion and hope.

I hope that my encouragement can reach through their despair and help anchor them to the light they’ve hidden, even from themselves.

Lots of people are hiking the halls of hell these days, but I believe in their inherent ability to find their way home.

Keeping a Light On

So, I am keeping a light on for them, realizing they will emerge from that black forest when they are ready. I look forward to hearing the stories they’ll undoubtedly need to tell.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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The Greater Good

 

Not-greater-goodA – Z Challenge – Day 7

What is the Greater Good?

When I was studying ethics last year as part of the work that accompanied a teaching fellowship I was awarded, we had bi-weekly discussions of concepts such as ‘the greater good’ and questions like ‘what is virtue?’  We looked at applied ethics and normative ethics. For me, my sense of ethics (morality) boiled down to right action and my discernment about what constituted the greater good.

For too long we’ve used profit as the measure of whether or not something serves society. We see where that’s gotten us. Nowhere good. Trust me.

Responsible Stewards

“In terms of power and influence you can forget about the church, forget politics. There is no more powerful institution in society than business… The business of business should not be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.” ~ Anita Roddick, Business as (Un)Usual: My Entrepreneurial Journey, Profit With Principles

As we make our way through the paradigm shift that is currently underway, thinking about the greater good seems particularly apropos.

We must act responsibly, collaboratively, and collectively for the good of the planet and everyone on it. There’s no longer the option of treating the earth as though her largess is without end. We cannot frack and drill and dig and fish rapaciously with no end in sight. Profit motivated pragmatism can no longer be the order of the day.

Moving forward, collective good must be the driving force in all our decisions.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

I recently heard Vishen Lakhiani of The Mindvalley Academy talk about the difference between ‘means goals’ and ‘end goals’ and the reason we need — as a society and as individuals — to stop focusing on means goals, and instead focus on end goals.

“Begin with the end in mind.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Means goals are short-term material goals. They might include our desire for a house, a particular car, a certain type of job, or an amount of money that seems like it would more than meet our needs.

End goals are completely different.

End goals revolve around our need to ‘make meaning’ in our lives. End goals are the goals that encompass what we truly want out of life.

  • Experiences: Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I most want to experience? What places to I want to see?
  • Growth: What do I most want to learn? How do I want to grow as an individual during my life?
  • Contribution: What do I want to do to give back to the larger world? What sort of contribution will I make with my life?

***

“If the world were to agree on a vision of the common good, what might it be? Frances Hesselbein argues that to some extent such a vision already exists, one that embraces healthy children, strong families, good schools, decent housing, and work that dignifies, all in the cohesive, inclusive society that cares about all of its people.” ~ John C. Knapp in For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century

A Cohesive, Inclusive Society

“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, is this for the common good?” ~ Michael Moore

So, how do we build a society that actively supports and works for the greater good?  A few places we might start?

By

  • Teaching civics, ethics, and empathy in our homes and schools.
  • Teaching the value of compassion, collective good and giving back.
  • Teaching that creating value (not money) for yourself/society is more important than personal gain.
  • Teaching ourselves to collect experiences rather than stuff; to live simply, so others can simply live.

If we focused on these ideas and on the idea of pursuing end goals: experiential goals, goals that grow our souls and our minds, and goals that stem from a sense of collective good and contribution, we will, without a doubt, transform the world.

***

Here’s a very poignant example of doing things for the greater goodhttp://www.lifebuzz.com/thai-commercial/

G

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Falling Into Grace

 

Image by John Elia

Image by John Elia

A  - Z Challenge Day 6

Falling into grace.

Falling is associated with losing control. We miscalculate the distance and we trip. We overestimate our abilities and we fall short. We fall down and get hurt. We scrape our knees and, perhaps, bruise our sense of infallibility.

There’s a physical gracelessness to falling, but there’s also a spiritual grace associated with it.

When we fall — whether in the street or into the arms of a lover — we experience what it is like to see those around us coming to our aid. We’re banged up and bleeding, or we’re gobsmacked with joy, unable to talk about or think about anyone or anything, except our beloved. We’ve bonked our heads and we see things differently. The world seems to blur and soften as our hearts fall open.

***

Falling leaves. 

I remember my mom telling me that as a child of perhaps seven or eight, she had an epiphany while playing in the woods near her home.

“Trees were dropping their leaves. I looked at the ground where they were piling up, slick with rain, and I started to cry. I realized that when each leaf fell, its life was over. It would never green up again. Something about that just hit me. I suddenly understood on some deep level that everything would at some point, die.  Even me.  Even my mom.”

***

Dreams of Falling.

In order to learn to walk, we must become comfortable with the idea of repeatedly falling down. If we never conquered this fear, we’d all still be crawling around on our hands and knees. It seems silly to think of it that way, but, in fact, it is true. We must literally overcome the forces of gravity in order to learn to walk upright.

Since most of us master this without so much as an afterthought, why do we later develop a fear of falling?

In our dreams, we find ourselves falling out of the window, falling from the sky, falling on our faces, falling to our knees.

We startle ourselves awake, sure that we’ve just been pushed over the edge.

According to Denise Linn, author of The Secret Language of Signs, “Falling can be a sign of feeling a loss of control. [...] Often we have to risk and fail before we can succeed” (150).

We dream of falling when we feel unable to manage our anxiety about the tenuous nature of life.

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Last November I fell and broke my nose, split the end of my nose open, and put my front teeth through my bottom lip.

I was badly injured and hospitalized for nearly three days afterward. I don’t remember much of the accident itself. I only remember the feeling of absolute vulnerability that accompanied the experience. I remember doctors and friends reassuring me as I rested in post-op after having plastic surgery on my face.

What did I learn from falling?

I discovered how much love there was for me in the world. Falling forced me to ask for help — and you know what — help arrived from all corners of my life. For weeks afterward, I had to call on others to do what I could not do for myself. I began to see the value of developing a willingness to lose control, to be vulnerable, to allow others to see my soft underbelly.

I let go and I fell deep into my life. I saw the strength it takes to lose control and let myself be truly seen.

With my accident, I fell into a kind of strange grace.

And, oddly enough, I felt right at home there.

F

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Empathy: Open Your Heart

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You Are Here – Image by Jenny Owens Young

“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Turning from Me to We

We live in a culture that has typically not had a lot of use for empathy; that is, the ability to see the world through the eyes of the ‘other.’

We pride ourselves on how rugged and individualistic and awesome we are, pretending we didn’t get any help along the road through life. This stance is, and should be, truly laughable.

Everyone alive owes the fact that they are even breathing to at least two human beings:  their parents. The web begins there. They wear clothing made by poor women in factories in China or Bangladesh or India, and drink milk from cows living on a dairy farm hundreds of miles from their homes. They sit on chairs made in Mexico and watch a television made in Japan. They read books and watch films and play video games — that are all the direct result of the imagination of their writers, directors, designers, and programmers. The roads that carry them to work are paid for by federal and state taxes, as is police service, fire service, education and infrastructure. There is no lone, ‘I built this’ individual. It’s total crap.

Everyone had help.

No one is disconnected from others in this world.

Even if you live in a penthouse on Park Avenue or, better yet, a cave in the woods, in one way or another, you are connected to thread of life because that’s the deal. We live in a macrocosm. The filaments of connection between us are like a spider’s web. Everyone gets caught up. Everyone.

We are meant to be collaborative and empathetic, not competitive and cold. The latter is a social construct that needs to be dismantled and left behind.

“My religion is kindness.” ~ The Dalai Lama

So, what is empathy?

Here’s what it is not. Empathy is not synonymous with sympathy. Sympathy is to pity another who is dire straights, or to feel sadness over their grief or difficulty. Sympathy maintains the distance between your heart and another person’s.

To empathize with another being (plant, animal, human) you must be able to imagine what it would be like to be them. You must walk in their shoes – however small, ripped up, or broken down those shoes might be.

“There but for the grace of God, go I.”

So, an empathetic person cares for the sick, the elderly, the mentally ill, and those whose souls feel broken.

An empathetic person reads the newspaper or a novel, following the details of a story of  someone so unlike her and, yet, she still sees herself in that person’s struggle.

An empathetic person works to feed those who are hungry, to make sure children don’t go to bed without dinner, to give even a  toddler living in the abject poverty the chance at a good life.

To possess empathy means to you are able to see your inherent likeness in another person’s eyes.

***

Like it or not, we are in this lifeboat together. We sink or we swim based upon what we do right now.

I vote that we build a more collaborative, heart-centered, collective-good sort of world.

You?

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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E

Darkness

Art by Tracy Oliver via Pinterest

Art by Tracy Oliver via Pinterest

A – Z Challenge, Day Four

“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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