A case of being in the right place at the right time with the right camera. This picture captures how I have felt as of late…light shining through darkness, beauty, hope. (taken on 31 December 2008 at the Agra Fort in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India)
If I were to put an image to my life in this moment, it would be a misty mountain scene. This photo was taken in British Columbia this summer. After the ferry ride from Skagway, AK we docked in Prince Rupert, BC and began the long drive down to Seattle. What cannot be seen, are the beautiful peaks of mountains, hidden behind the mist. They are there, and what a sight to behold when they are not shrouded by clouds! This too, is a sight to behold in its mystery of dark and light.
Yesterday, Resurrection seemed an empty word. I know this is not true, but a mind sunk beneath shadows senses not what good may be out there. It is instead lost and fixated on gloomy predictions forecast under pessimistic conditions held tightly by a clouded and cluttered mind. Unseen joy is shrouded by some part of me that would rather shiver in the rain without a coat, and slowly sulk through puddles than to stretch my arms out and breathe in the cool air. Why is this so? What part of me has the warped desire to remain in sad shadows and depressed depths?
Today I have experienced joy, though with night-time, anxiety and fear return as the knots tighten around my throat. The times when I am joyful seem fleeting these days. Again, I know what gives me joy and that there is much to rejoice about now. On occasion, I am drawn out of the muck and dreariness into sun-splashed daylight. I recognize the journey to be lived is marked with perils, uncertainty, loss, joy, love, hope…
I imagine myself walking through the mist and shadows. And I can imagine this being a time of renewal. The mist wets my face as I walk on wet earth. This is a time for exploration, adventure (oh, there is adventure ahead of me. Where have I been, that I have forgotten!). The fog that surrounds is mysterious and mystical. Now is the time to be filled with wonder and let go of anxious thoughts and the desire to forget all that is good. Let it go. Let it go.
I am reminded of a song from J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The words were written by Bilbo and sung early in the journey of Frodo with the ring. Walking on a path after dusk, the hobbits sang to lift their spirits. The song appears in the movie, though much abbreviated, and that is what I quote now:
Home is behind, the world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night
until the stars are all alight.
Mist and shadow, cloud and shade
all shall fade, all shall fade.
Mist and shadow, indeed. May my wandering in the mist be transforming, and may the shadows not overcome me. There is still hope left to find, there is reason to sing. God is bigger than my hurts and the hurts I cause to others. God is bigger than darkness, for light shines in the darkness.
I am on a journey through mist and shadow. And I shall see the goodness and glory of what lies beyond the shadows. I am on a journey…
“In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
Barely past 5pm these days and already darkness falls here in Seattle. The winter darkness can be cold and lonely. I am reminded of the suffering of humanity, those who suffer depression, and the wounds of my own past. Yet also the winter can be a time for quiet contemplation and inner light. I’ve been thinking about this recently as I search for my own inner light amid a dark night of the soul. For me, some places in my journey have been dark, and at times terrifying. It is my faith that has sustained me; God is my light in dark times. In those times of darkness and winter, I did, as Camus said, find an invincible summer.
Today I found myself drawn to Psalm 13. It’s a lament that wonders, “how long?” How long must this sorrow in my heart continue? At the end, however, the writer sings to the LORD. I asked God this morning how long…how long must I hold this sorrow within? I doubt there will be an answer. What else is there to do but continue to walk the journey of life with hope for healing.Thomas R. Kelley in his book, A Testament of Devotion, writes,
“Meister Eckhart wrote, ‘As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.’ Deep witin us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice to which we may continuousy return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with imitations of an astounding destiny, calling home into Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.
Many times I have had to return to this inner sanctuary of the soul for healing. This light within has healed me and as a spiritual director I can walk with others in the healing process. This night I pray with a song, written by Sue Wallace in England (and arranged on a new CD from my church community, details forthcoming). It speaks to the healing within myself and what can happen in others:
Light within my darkness
Hope within my pain,
Truth within confusion
Let me live again.
Set me free,
O my Jesus
O my Jesus
warmth within my coldness
joy within my tears
peace within my anger
courage in my fear
set me free,
oh my Jesus
oh my Jesus