Monday, August 15, 2011

Unshrouding my light

Listen to this post:

Last week, I had a blog half written in my journal about my fixation with the darkness. And I am still inclined to share that, although this morning's meditation landed me in my grandmother's pocket Bible from 1956 on this passage from John [12:35-36] in Jesus' words:

"... Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not wither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of the light."

On reflection, the wisdom that came to me was this:

I must let my light shine, not shroud myself in darkness, that which is not of Spirit.

My thoughts on darkness were sparked by an Eckhard Tolle passage in "Stillness Speaks" that the most sacred thing in life is death. I don't fear death, rather, I believe, I fear living .. the pain, the struggle, the separateness.

As for darkness, I could always walk up to the casketed body, feel what had been there and know what to say to comfort the bereaved. As a child, I touched the yellow waxiness of my grandmother [whose Bible I was directed to], unconsciously knowing this cold, lifeless, dull form had represented her, but was not her – now or ever.

It was harder as a young adult when the reclining figure was my best friend. Still, I approached and my heart sent a prayer elsewhere.

Vampires have always transfixed me, long before Edward and Twilight: Nosferatu, Dracula, Barnabas. All, creatures of the night, banished from sunlight, burned by Holy water, sucking the life from others, sleeping in coffins and condemned to eternity. And yet, I recognized their humanity, pain and desire not to be so ... alone.

My mother said I found the perfect job when I went to work for the casket company. I felt honored to give elegant names to gleaming, velvet-lined metal caskets, contemplating the comfort it would give those left behind, but do little for the departed spirit. Watching bones burn was less romantic, yet a reminder of dust-to-dust and ashes-to-ashes. I enjoyed the company of funeral directors, who cut loose at conventions and felt their care of the living and non-living a calling. I learned a lot about grief from the national expert who consulted for the company and the miscarriage I experienced while working there.

I've always read in the dark, much to my mother's chagrin, showered without flicking the light switch on and spent much of the past 12 years exploring my inner darkness.

Yet the light in which Quakers worship draws me like a moth. As does the flaming inner core that yoga and meditation reveal.

Occasionally, my mother sends me a Henri Nouwen passage from a daily meditation to which  she subscribes. I think the one she passed along today aptly describes some of my perceived darkness:

"If indeed the spiritual life is essentially a hidden life, how do we protect this hiddenness in the midst of a very public life?   The two most important ways to protect our hiddenness are solitude and poverty.  Solitude allows us to be alone with God.  There we experience that we belong not to people, not even to those who love us and care for us, but to God and God alone.  Poverty is where we experience our own and other people's weakness, limitations, and need for support.  To be poor is to be without success, without fame, and without power.  But there God chooses to show us God's love.

Both solitude and poverty protect the hiddenness of our lives."

All of these messages seem to confirm my need for shadows and hiddenness, but I can't neglect the yang to the yin: the light to which I am also utterly attracted. I believe it's time for me to unshroud my light as I feel I knoweth not wither I currently goeth.

• How do I live in the light?
• In the darkness?
• What begs to remain hidden?
• What cries to be revealed into the light?
• If this light is with me now, how am I called to show and share it?

the flame from my meditation candle
is not stagnant

its singularity is flowing, a
graceful dance

guided by another force

seeking the heart,
my heart and its darkness,
joining it to


  1. I love this Nouwen quote! Wonderful post, thanks:) Blogtowardswholeness.blogspot.com

  2. Scott, Thank you for dropping in and paying attention. I'll be certain to check out your blog!
    -- Cathy