Some thoughts on the darkness

New Years is a great time for reflecting back and looking forward. As I do a bit of that today, its clear that the last year has been one of darkness. But, as the poet David Whyte says, there is a place for darkness – even a sweetness.

Sweet Darkness by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired

the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone

no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark

where the night has eyes

to recognize its own.

There you can be sure

you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb


The night will give you a horizon

further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:

the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

I know that in this dark hour, I have found new depth and meaning in many of the day-to-day tasks to which I have devoted myself. And I think I see the world more clearly now than I ever did when I thought there was light.

Sometimes I wonder if we are preparing to change things for the better or to survive as things get worse. Lately I have found wonderful solace in the words below. They have been attributed to Hopi Elders, but that is in dispute. No matter their source, I think they hold great wisdom.

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

Here are the things that must be considered:

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know our garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.

They will try to hold on to the shore.

They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off toward the middle of

the river,

keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

See who is there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally,

least of all ourselves!

For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lonely wolf is over.

Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

I know that the idea of letting go of the shore and banishing the word “struggle” feel like an impossibility right now with so many in pain. But don’t most of our sacred teachings say the same thing? How are we going to bring the light if we spend all our time focusing on the darkness? There is some ancient mystery in the idea of surrender that seems to open up possibilities that otherwise would not appear.

I think this “shore” that we need to let go of is the one that keeps insisting that gaining power in the traditional ways it’s been held will somehow enable us to make things better. Maybe the flow of the river can teach us more about how to be responsive to and responsible for each other and the world in a way we haven’t seen before.

Our Native brothers and sisters have alot to teach us in how to weather the storm. In their generosity, they continue to share their wisdom … if we’ll listen.


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  1. as I reflect back and look forward. I’d love to hear yours.

  2. Your gentle words portray some very radical notions!

    Letting go of the shore — that one alone I find exhilirating to think about.

    The elections will come, the politicking, the arguments and exchanges, the primaries, all that jazz.

    We’ll grow more and more disgusted with the noise.

    Yet it will continue and there are great powers to be gained by those folks.  I don’t underestimate those powers and how they will affect my own life.

    I don’t think these are just thoughts, Pandora.  I think you have come to some conclusions — you have, imo, for a while now.

    We’ll chart our own course.

    For me, the goal is the same, whether in darkness or light, happiness or sadness, hopefuless or hopelessness.

    Freedom from fear.  Freedom from tyranny.  Freedom from hatred and bigotry.  Free expression of who we are as individuals and as human beings — and that means in love, in healing, in words and actions.  All that stuff.

    No matter what.

  3. a science fiction book titled “EarthSong” by Suzette Haden Elgin. Its a rather disjointed story with lots of tangets that, frankly, I didn’t get. But the central storyline was a powerful one.

    In the future, a group of women discover that music can replace food. They know that they have found a way to end hunger in humankind. But they also know that if they go public with this information, the “powers that be” will learn to control music, much like they do food, and hunger will continue.

    As an alternative, they go out into the world as music teachers. They know that this means it will take generations to end hunger and those at the table making the decision will not be there when the day comes.

    But they go forward anyway and by the time the powers that be find out what they are doing – its too late – the world is fed.

    Now that’s what I call letting go of the shore and flowing with the river!!

  4. with such eloquence and an attitude that just blows off conventional thinking! Or at least that’s what I got out of it, and it’s most welcome. Especially these two lines:

    See who is there with you and celebrate.  

    This could be a good time!

    So perfect. They say more than I ever could about why we’re all here and how it can be better.

    But this one is my absolute favorite:

    anything or anyone

    that does not bring you alive

    is too small for you.

    Ain’t it the truth? How did I ever forget that? It won’t happen again.

    THANK YOU, NLin!! Happy 2008!!  

  5. 1620, racism, greed, and aggression came ashore with them, and have been casting darkness over this continent ever since.

    It’s going to keep getting darker if we don’t summon at least some of the wisdom Native Americans have always had, and start respecting the environment and our fellow human beings instead of exploiting them.

    Thank you for this essay, NL, we ARE the ones we’ve been waiting for, the leadership we seek is within each of us and has been all along.

    • Edger on January 2, 2008 at 15:03

    And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

    Or as Buhdy would say: We are all “The One”…

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