Dark Wood

a tree against a dark skyThinking, thinking, thinking
Wandering, wandering, wandering
Hoping to find the solution in a pristine idea – and knowing it cannot be done
Reality is not about truths, but about relationship

About true relationship –
One that honors each identity fully and yet finds the deep resonance between them
That makes each one more
Love is the deep truth that emerges, because love is the source of it all.

I am in a dark wood. The trees that surround me are foreboding, reaching out at me with their black branches, sending my heart scurrying deeper in my frame, making me want to curl myself into such a small ball that I disappear entirely. But to wish myself away … that is not the right response – either for myself or for those I love. Somehow I must face the darkness without denying its reality.

There is, it seems, a difference between reality and truth.

And so I take a deep breath and, holding my walking stick firmly in hand, I step out upon the path that unfolds, dimly, before me. I can barely see it, covered in leaves, in this faint light, poorly worn and easily hidden. I can only hope I am really following the path and not just some maze created by the random growth of trees.

And yet I cannot stand still, either.

So I step forward, and, in an effort to break the spell that holds my heart in fear, I start to sing. My voice is faint and cracks at first – the words hesitating on the rim of my lips before they make it into the silence before me. Yet, they do flow, and in the melody I find a hint of comfort.

After the first few verses, they come more freely, a bit louder, a bit more confidently into the void. I step along the trail, following them as if they were the prow of a ship. They break the space for my coming. I am grateful for the words themselves, as well as the melody, because someone unknown to me sang the same passage into their world of fear. I sing the song I learned as a youth, that keeps coming back to me at times like these, whose authorship I do not know, whose melody is only hopefully remembered, “You are all I have, Lord. You give me all I need. I will put my future completely in your hands; completely in your hands, Lord; completely in your hands. I will put my future in your hands.”

It is a song that can be sung in a round, and to my surprise, as I walk this path alone, someone, or several someones, sing the other stages of the round. Other voices echo in my soul, singing with me, supporting me, leading and following my words as we sing together. So, I walk, surrounded by the song, as if in a bubble of faith amid the darkness of the wood.

And slowly the darkness becomes less frightening. Its nature seems to change. It is no longer so much an emptiness as it is a silence. Silence provides a place to be, where emptiness drains the soul. They are so different, yet at first glance they are the same. Also true with the branches of the trees. Now, it seems they reach to me to connect rather than to harm. These dark fingers of grace are frightening only because I have been taught to fear the dark, rather than accept its embrace. This would be a loss for my soul if I should turn in fear from such an invitation.

I pause upon the trail. The wood has not changed; it is different for me because I have changed. Now there is a richness in its depths. An occasional star shines in the night sky above and I feel the sleeping breath of all the earth beneath my feet. This is a moment of rest you have offered me, not a moment of dread, if I will but embrace it, if I will but yield to its embrace.

Oh thank you for the song.

Amen.

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