waiting out the dark

I am fortunate to be surrounded by seekers and searchers. One who makes me laugh and think and keep moving forward–tap-dancing some days, tip-toeing others–is Tracy. Talk about someone whose life has taken a few unexpected turns. 😉 Thanks, my friend, for this beautiful sharing. Carla

In some religious circles, this time of year is known as Advent.  It is the period leading up to Christmas.  The symbolism and the liturgy and the music during Advent are all about waiting, about darkness and light.  Being a “used to be practicing Catholic,” the symbolism is deeply engrained in my psyche.  And the symbols of darkness and light are particularly poignant for me right now.  I’m not sure if the earlier religions had a name for this pre-winter Solstice time of year, but I’m sure there were rituals and things they did leading up to the celebration of the Solstice, the time when the light starts to make a comeback, and the days start getting longer.  Many years ago, on Christmas day, my dad asked me if I had gone to church.  Feeling a bit ornery that day, I responded, without skipping a beat, “No, I celebrated Solstice with the pagans this year.”  I know, not very nice, but I couldn’t resist.  The midnight mass on Christmas Eve used to be my favorite.  Sitting in a darkened church, and having one candle lit in the choir loft, and slowly brought down to the congregation, waiting in the dark.  That’s what this time of year is about.  Waiting for the light.

The waiting is not easy.  Patience, if any of you know me, is definitely NOT one of my virtues.  But sometimes, I can wait.  I may not do it well, or with a lot of serenity, but I can wait.  Sometimes.

The darkness is an entirely different matter.  I know darkness.  I am intimately familiar with darkness in all its forms.  As a child, I was afraid of the dark, particularly the basement, and the dark space behind and around my bedroom door.  I was sure there were monsters in the basement, and a witch lurking behind my bedroom door, waiting to get me.  But darkness is far more than the absence of light.  In my experience, it is tied to not being able to see past an emotional quagmire of anxiety or depression, or just plain sadness.  It is about not knowing, or being able to see, which direction to go in, which step to take on my journey.

During Advents past, I have spent many hours sitting in the dark, waiting for the light. A lot of times, this was a spiritual darkness, feeling the absence of light, the absence of God, of peace, of the divine nurturing that I so desperately need. The light.  That is what I long for.  It is hope, it is clarity, it is the ability to see clearly the path ahead of me, and knowing which direction to go in.

Today, unfortunately, is all about the darkness, not knowing, not seeing, not feeling the hope, not being able to reach out and grasp anything tangible to help me navigate the current challenges.  Or to just offer a simple bit of comfort while I sit in the darkness.  I know, deep down, in the center of my soul, that there is light, even though I cannot see it.  There is hope, even though I cannot feel it.  There is someone there to offer a bit of sustaining comfort.  I’m not exactly sure who that Someone is, right now.  But I know there is Someone who waits for me, on the other side of the darkness, just around the corner.  Urging me to sit still, and wait, and trust.  Even though I’d rather do anything but sit still, and wait, and trust.

Sitting in the dark, waiting for the light.  That’s what I’m doing, this busy, pre-Christmas, pre-Solstice season.

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2 Responses to “waiting out the dark”

  1. I absolutely recall waiting for the solstice, waiting for the tide of darkness to turn, that moment when every day brought a few more minutes of light into the world. Then I knew I could drag myself through the barrenness of Jan. and Feb. and that spring would come–it was inevitable. But I’m not sure about individual lives; it seems dismissive to me to say “Don’t worry! Spring will follow winter and all will be sunny again.”

    I do know a bit about waiting, however. You sit and you wait and you trust, and somehow, after a time, the ability to stay in the waiting space becomes a strength all its own. And the ability to hold the tension between the dark and the light, between the waiting and the desire to do something, anything, becomes a well-developed skill.

    I’ve seen people develop that strength and that skill (Carla, for one), and it is impressive to see the foundation they create for themselves. It sounds like Tracy is headed that direction, as well. Godspeed and best wishes for your journey.

  2. Thank you, Kristy. I like what you wrote about holding the tension between the light and the dark. Beautiful. Being still, spiritually and physically, is something that comes and goes in my life. I used to be better at it. I hope to get back to that space again.

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