Monday, November 8, 2010

Unilluminated and steamy silence

Sometimes you have to enter the dark to be in the light.

That thought attached itself this morning during my regular after-laps-no-lights sauna visit when interrupted by another. She entered, then automatically flipped the switch. "Don't you want some light?" "No," I responded, "I prefer the dark because the light makes my sinuses worse," I weakly – and somewhat untruthfully – mustered.

Couldn't quite fathom telling a complete stranger why I like the dark. Maybe I could have. She countered with: "I don't really like it either. Guess I just do what everyone else does, to turn them on, without thinking. Maybe we should be rebels." I thanked her for honoring my request and asked if she wanted them on when I left. She didn't either.

I sense she would have understood that the dark, to me, is comforting and not a place to fear. It's a place to slow down, be myself, find myself and often find God. I have mentioned before that I consider this cedar sauna my prayer box. One I can actually enter ... usually alone. I have also connected frequently and deeply with others over conversation or just sitting in the unilluminated and steamy silence.

Today's experience reminds me of an extended silent Quaker worship I facilitated a couple of years ago. Another Friend and I arrived early and hunkered down for the duration of over two hours. This was something I was very much looking forward to, not dreading. A few streamed in later, but before then and just as the worldliness was beginning to fade and I was traveling to that foggy zone where my mind sleeps and something else takes over, someone walked in and asked: "Do you want light?" I had not even noticed we were worshipping in the natural light. Again, I said no. And this internal answer to that question arose:

Do you want light?
[a voice interrupts my worship in darkness]

Only the natural
I prefer darkness
to hibernate
to germinate.

being in the light, exposed
means pushing against
the grain and takes
all of my strength

In silent worship,
First I become bodily numb,
slowly the pain drains.
I feel the energy – God’s love –
creep back in.
The stillness is recharging.
As I recede inside
myself, I can detach
from my life . It loops
like film reels. I
watch it pass.

A sudden heavy sigh and
another layer of pain
is released. My body
grown lighter – more
deeply still. My roots
attach more deeply.
My heart’s burdens
are lifted and heard.
I begin to feel more
whole. More able to
be with God.

I am re-awakened into
a new place. A place
of wisdom, healing, love. A
place where I can be –
am with God.
Now, I can listen – truly.

Quakers spend so much time concerned with the light that some neglect the flip side. I am drawn to the traditional Quaker phrase "being convicted by the light," which means to let God's light shine into the dark recesses of ourselves. Any exploration into that darkness shines a light of some type: awareness, introspection, assistance, gratitude, healing, recovery. I don't claim that it's easy or pain free, but it does aid us in becoming more of who we are when we address the shadows, maybe even lingering: resting, waiting, percolating on the journey toward wholeness.

• What does darkness mean to me?
• Where do I find more comfort: in the dark or light?
• Why and is that a habit?
• What happens when I move out of my comfort zone?
• How can the darkness lead me to light?


  1. Once again I'm comforted and nourished by your reflections. I so often feel a synchronicity with your writing. Just now I posted about my pre-dawn meditation times on the ferry as I commute to another island. I think of my compact Subaru as my private confessional/meditation space. Not as steamy as your sauna, but similar in its quiet, solitude, and in the early morning hours, darkness. Sometimes that space and time are comforting; at other times, challenging. But always, drawing me back and closer to Spirit.

  2. And don't we need each other to remind ourselves that it's about just doing it, not necessarily where and how! I so appreciate your reflections and support ... now I'm off to read about your sanctuary. Wish we lived closer, although I feel that on some level we do!