Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Light emerging from the darkness

Darkness surrounds me – and it's NOT a bad thing. I am talking about creative darkness, that mysterious, God-filled space where transformation happens, often without our awareness. Here, our only option is to surrender.

Or, as I learned Saturday, to consent.

It was so appropriate that I explored my darkness at a Winter Solstice retreat at the Milford Spiritual Center on the day of the longest night of the year. Though billed as a day of quiet, the idea of delving intentionally and consciously into the dark appealed to me. Perhaps, not a very typical Christmas activity.

The cold, cloudy day helped set the stark exterior tone. The inside fire, delicious food and soul tending seemed representative as well.

Pastor Mary from the local Episcopal Church and my spiritual director created the event. She had a variety of activities we could pursue in silence during the day. It was hard to select, yet two very much spoke to me: Divine Alchemy and Darkness is a Doorway.

The Divine Alchemy reading began with: "Why does a world created by the God of love contain so much suffering and unrest?" It spoke of the primacy of pain and unrest being the raw material of the "ultimate primacy of love."

In the margin, I scribbled pain + ? = love.  The unknown is transformative love, God's pure and unconditional love. Boy, did this jive with my word for the year, purification, that Mary had handed me last January.

Standing at the intersection of the cross and consenting to love
My personal exploration began with my relationship to my youngest and the dance we have: the invitation, the clash, repelling and pushing away, then dragging one another back. I recognized it as a means of control for both of us. What happens when I let go in the darkness? When I surrender? In the darkness, the fear of the unknown if consumed. It's where I wrestle and part of the purification process. Where I learned that I can lose it all when I clutch. That to receive, I must surrender. I eventually arrived at this prayer:

Holy One –
Please enter my darkness
though you are already present
I consent
I invite you into my soul

Please use your power of love
to transform
my pain
my dear
my anger
my frustration

Teach me
to surrender
to forgive
to change
to love

Re-shape me into the
person I can be only
with and through You

Your willful, willing Child
Alchemy, I discovered, means returning to oneness.

Between activities I walked the labyrinth, then paused to warm myself in the small chapel at the top of the hill. Perhaps inspired by the aroma of simmering soup as I left the retreat house, I began to think about how darkness is the primordial stew of the human soul. That it is our condition until we chose the light. We can remain individual ingredients, uncooked. Or we can simmer (by choosing the fire or heat source). The longer we cook, the better we become until we are finally consumed (death) in this form.

At the chapel, I rocked by the crucifix, observing that Jesus' head head lay directly at the intersection of the two wooden planks. That same intersection has haunted me all year. "What does the primordial stew have to do with the intersection of the cross?" I asked. It's binding agent is love: the broth, the path, the choice. And Jesus head lay at the intersection because it is a head choice as the heart naturally says yes.

With all of my being, I consent to this transformative love that, out of the darkness, birthed a pure and innocent child with whom we celebrate this season. Light emerging from the darkness. We now enter the season of light: the light of Christ, God's love and the gift of longer days.

• How do I observe the Winter Solstice?
• What is my current darkness?
• Where/how have I been transformed this year?
• Can my surrender become consent to Spirit?
• How is the light emerging from my darkness?

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