"To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings."
To Know the Dark - Wendell Berry
We live in a culture that makes us fear the dark. From a young age, we are taught that anything associated with the dark is scary and should be avoided at all costs. When I was little, I was terribly arachnophobic. As soon as the lights went out, I would get overwhelmed with thoughts that spiders were going to come crawling out of all the dark corners of my room and consume me. It would often send me into a panic-stricken state.
However, what if we began to shift that perception and view the dark in a different way? What if we could let go of the connection between darkness and evil, and learn to see the utter beauty of the dark?
I began making peace with the dark through my work with the underworld of soul. During an intensive program one summer, I was invited to "befriend the dark". I went out in the middle of the night and wandered into the darkest part of forest I could find. It was so dark, I could not even see my hand in front of my face. At first, I was afraid of the seemingly endless expanse of utter darkness that lay before me. But, as I slowly inched forward, I felt my body begin to relax and started to feel more at ease.
Then, I experienced a profound shift. I found an huge old growth stump and crawled on top. I laid down and felt an utter state of calm wash over my body. It was as though I had just dived beneath the surface of the ocean and had entered into another world. It was so quiet and peaceful. As I became more attuned to my surroundings, I started to realize there were creatures all around me thriving in the darkness. I began to see the dark does in fact "bloom and sing, and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings."
Since that experience, I have continued to embrace the dark as not only a beautiful, prosperous place, but a fundamental part of life. In fact, half of life as we know it exists in the dark. We were all conceived in the darkness of our mother's womb. The dark of sleep and night is when our dreams come alive. Plants need the richness of the deep, dark soil to gain nutrients to grow. These are just a few examples of the importance of the dark.
Next time you find yourself shying away from the dark, I invite you to lean in and see what the darkness has in store. There may just be something beautiful waiting for you there.