What is it about the dark emotions that repel me? Why do I resist and deny them, even hide myself away when I’m in them? Perhaps it’s simply because they’re uncomfortable, but I know it also has something to do with my never wanting to show weakness—to be anything less than my version of “good.”
But part of living has to do with sorrow; with pain. Our hearts are meant to feel everything this world has to offer. Trying to shut out the difficulties is not only futile, it denies a significant part of the reason we live.
In the David Whyte tape I’ve been listening to, he makes the point that the universe is half dying and half living at any given time, and that’s what makes it a vital system. He says, “… if you choose only the growing side of it you’ll be doomed to ignoring half of existence… a real identity has something to do with embracing the fading, dying, grief-filled sides of yourself.”
I had what I call a ragged day yesterday. It was one of those days that had me questioning my worth; my reason to be. Maybe these kinds of days are our growing pains, I don’t know. Because they certainly seem to be fertile ground, whether they’re comfortable or not.
It is interesting to me that, not long ago, I wrote a post about being in a state of grace (see previous post A State of Grace). And, here I am, in the same house, on the same land, in the same body, but my experience yesterday was the polar opposite of that gracious morning. The other side of grace. I don’t think we get to have one without the other.
Whyte takes up a Rilke poem, The Man Watching, in which Rilke suggests that “… if only we let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too…” He says, “Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated by constantly greater beings.”
And this is really the truth of it, isn’t it? Isn’t this the natural order of things? A grain of sand becoming the pearl, carbon under pressure producing diamonds, iron pounded in the forge to make it stronger? Our wounding giving us the choice to grow? I’ve said it before: it seems to be a universal pattern and I don’t think that’s so because life is cruel. We learn through joy, too. We certainly learn through love. Life seems to demand that we experience the whole of it if we are to grow. And, as hard as that can be sometimes, it is a stunningly perfect system.
Native Americans have long honored and celebrated the darkness—the void, the unknown—as a place for seeking and finding answers. They see it as the home of all that is not yet in form and, as such, the birthing place for all creativity. In fact they believe the darkness holds all the energy of the creative source. And when you think about it, incubation, germination, take place in the dark—of the womb, the nest, the earth, the recesses of the mind.
Whyte offers Adrienne Rich’s poem, Integrity, to consider: “Anger and tenderness: my selves. And now I can believe they breathe in me as angels, not as polarities.”
Indeed, the dark and the light, grace and fear, belief and doubt, joy and sorrow, my selves, my angels.
May I be continually willing to be defeated by greater and greater beings, understanding it as a choice of strength, not weakness. May I offer myself the grace, the right, the love, the compassion, to be wholly and simply human.
Love to you all,