Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too was a gift.- Mary Oliver

When I was a child, I was terrified of the dark. I had this routine before bedtime.  I opened the closet door to check inside to make sure the only things hanging out were my clothes.  Then, I would drop to my knees beside the bed, lift the dust ruffle and peek underneath. My dad wasn’t the kind of guy to provide us with the comfort of a night light.  No wussy kids in the Colonel’s household!   I’d go to bed and lie awake shivering with fear; certain I missed a corner of the closet, anticipating the feel of the bogey man’s breath on my face. Most nights I didn’t leave the bed, no matter what.  If my bladder absolutely could not stand the strain, necessitating a dreaded trip to the potty, I would sprint out the bedroom door to the bathroom.  Mission and task completed, I would then long jump back into bed, barely surviving the hand I just knew was going to reach out and grab my ankles, and pull  me into the nether world beneath.  Every night was an undelightful adventure in getting dumped inside a nature preserve filled with lions, and tigers, and bears with nothing but my feather pillow to defend me.  Daylight would come and I would breathe a sigh of relief that I survived another night of horrors.  
Essentially that fear of the darkness has followed me a good part of my life. I hate the unknown and I would do practically anything, including selling off pieces of my soul to avoid that heart pounding fright of being alone, in the dark.  Comfort for me came in being able to clearly see the road ahead and the path behind. I could control  things then.  Be prepared was my motto. A few years ago this great big package of everything I feared was presented to me.  It was especially difficult as it was handed to me, tied up with a cheery, bright bow of potential new beginnings, (with a smile) by people I liked and trusted, and someone I dearly loved. All illusion of happiness and safety was ripped away as the lid fell down on the box, trapping me inside, alone, in the darkness.
For a while, heart-pounding and gasping for air, I clawed at the sides of the box.  I yelled for help, but no one heard me.  Finally, my voice gone, exhausted and resigned, I surrendered to the blackness.  Oh, there were days when the monsters pinched, poked, and tortured me to tears.  Demons of depression, isolation, loneliness, and inadequacy taunted me.   I had never been in the darkness like this before, for so long with no imminent rescue in sight.   So, I stopped, became still and settled in.  I became more comfortable with where I was at, and simply road the waves of fright, stillness, entrapment and hopelessness.  I began to recognize, even in the box, those were all just emotions and I sensed there was so much more here than that.  Acceptance of them set in.  There were no demons or angels.  It all just ebbed across the span of the moments. 
I also began to hear the whisper of a voice... soothing and reassuring;  a message I don’t believe I ever heard quite like this before.  I thought I was all alone.  The voice chuckled at my discovery and said, “Sometimes, it takes the darkness in order to really hear.”  In the darkness I have learned to listen to what is being spoken rather than what is said, looking with the eyes of my soul rather than the visual presentation playing out in front of me.   I’ve stared down the bogey man of loss, betrayal, isolation, and insecurity and watched as those pathetic little creatures scampered off, tail between their legs.  
When I got quiet enough inside the darkness of the box, I  found this light!   It cast it’s soft glow on this beautiful woman of compassion, talent, humor, confidence, integrity, and most of all,  great courage.  I don’t ever think I really ever saw her in the daylight.  But, there she was, all along... a gemstone hidden inside that dark box. 
Today, lying in the dark is an act of faith.  It’s there it seems I’ve found this incredible  peace.  There is comfort and freedom in the knowledge, I  don’t  have to see anything clearly all the time.  Sometimes its just better to blindly grope our way through, trusting and letting the light inside show us the way. I don’t need  be afraid of what I can’t see.  Whatever new bogey man crosses my path, will be invited in for a good conversation about his contribution to my life and growth.  No more long jumps to avoid what’s under the bed. 
What I believed I couldn’t survive, has given me the ability to thrive.  I thank the VIP in my life for my box of darkness.  I’m sure from time to time I'll return to the box.  Mostly for comfort or to be recharged by the Light.  Revisiting that gemstone lying inside isn’t a bad idea either.