I come to you as one who has traveled miles and miles through the long, bitter cold night in the darkness of the wilderness. The soft glow from your window pane summons me. It has taken forty-four years (and lifetimes more) to arrive on your doorstep. I approach, so very humbly, kneel before you, and ask you to pause with me for a short while. I offer the following in exchange for your warmth. I am your tribe, your family, your fellow traveler. I kneel not only for you and me, but for the great, great, great, great, great grandchildren yet to come. For the water, land, air, birds, four-legged creatures, insects, life. Grant me this deep eye contact before I journey back into the night.
Yours in the Eternal Dance,
The Dance of Lightness & Darkness
(or Our Survival)
The dance of lightness and darkness is a fluid interplay. Light transforms into dark and dark into light in an eternal exchange as the transformative spark carries itself through the fluid medium of the universe like phosphorescence in water. Lightness and Darkness: Seen, unseen. Life, death. Day, night. Expansion, contraction. Awake, asleep.
Lightness and darkness—both children of god. They do not exist independently of one another. Within the neutral tapestry of eternity, there is no preference for light or dark. In the absolute sense, this is the nature of the manifest universe. A churning furnace filled with intense light burns stars while vast black holes teem with seeming emptiness. In the unfurling sacred dance of the infinite light and dark transform, transfigure, and become one another. None of it is personal.
This dance, this sacred unfurling, also occurs within our flesh as the whirring orbit of protons, neutrons, and electrons around the nucleus of every atom in our being, and as the profound stillness that underlies it. The fabric that birthed eternity occupies and gives rise to us also. It resides within as the unseen bedrock of pure potential of all that is. The bedrock of pure potential within transforms into lightness or darkness depending on the state of our awareness, our consciousness. We too are children of god. Our ability to create is every bit as magnificent.
Both lightness and darkness are essential for human life. It is within the warm humus of the darkness of the womb that the profound miracle of life germinates. It is by the light of the sun that our food is grown through the absorption of light waves by chlorophyll—plants drink sunlight to become our food source that becomes our tissue. Our exquisitely delicate biosphere is maintained (as we hurl through space at unimaginable speed) by a delicate balance between light and dark. The intelligence of it all is unparalleled.
We walk a fine balance—a gentle sway it has been said—between light and dark both within and without. In the absolute realm of (seemingly) distant cosmos, birthing galaxies, and suns burning out after billions of years, there is no preference for light or dark, for anything over anything else. The unfolding on that scale occurs over eons as something gives rise to something else, in a profoundly neutral unfolding.
Our powerful awareness—one that arises from the bedrock of our presence and is in continuum with totality or all-that-is at all times, whether or not this is apparent—maintains the balance of light and dark in the psycho-spiritual-physical or relative human realm. The human realm tends to lose the neutrality of the absolute as the denser structures of the mind give rise to good/bad, right/wrong (even as that which gives rise to the mind is itself profoundly neutral, the stuff of totality). The gift of human consciousness comes with the responsibility of exquisite stewardship, which means bringing awareness to the massively big picture that arises from within and is projected outwardly into the collective.
While arising from the absolute cosmic realm of no-preference or neutrality, we are designed to care very deeply, to preserve life, to love one another. It is hard-wired into our instinct to survive. Our survival depends on it. The potential within us is to feel—exquisitely so—the nameless, timeless, unbounded, powerful expanse of love within and without that unites us with each other, all of life, and the eternal (separation does not exist save for in the shadows cast by the veil of the mind) while we walk and breathe as humans on earth. It is that which builds bridges instead of walls and transforms me into we. That which quells self-importance—self-importance that is a malignancy to the organism that we are. That which calls our attention to the air, water, land, and all of life. This love vibrates from within the light and the dark. It can be the source from which our thoughts, words, and deeds arise.
It loves unconditionally from its still, silent presence—one that is not perceived by awareness made murky from the sludge in our tissues from toxic chemicals in food or the environment, from densely obscuring mental distortions, or an attention span curtailed by over-externalization. It takes exquisitely subtle perception—one deliberately cultivated—to feel the immensity of it within the air we breathe, the ground upon which we walk, the leaves that whisper overhead, the clouds dancing in the wind, the emptiness of the darkness of night. It is heard in the haunting call of the owl from the nightscape, in the voice of the ancient that sings from the flute, and beckons in the beat of the tribal drum. It emanates from the spider poised in absolute stillness in the center of her exquisitely fragile web. The pure potential of all-that-ever-was-is-or-will-be vibrates within us. It vibrates from within the light and the darkness. It is our birthright because we are it.
The essence that is hard-wired into every aspect of our being—one that begs our knowing—becomes obscured within the shadows when the balance of the light and dark are not maintained. It becomes obscured beneath the toxic load in our tissues, and beneath psycho-spiritual-mental distortions (often a result of our and/or ancestral trauma—one and the same, really) that give rise to fear, cynicism, mistrust, misdeeds, and their offspring. The divisive distortions have been passed down generationally through ancestral lineage for millennia. They are, breath by breath, threatening humanity’s shelf life, creating profound isolation, making us and our Earth very sick, and nurturing a collective that gives rise to humans killing humans, and a “me vs other and us vs them” mentality that is not on any level congruent with harmony and survival. What occurs within occurs without.
What lies hidden from view within the shadows of the landscape of humanity (not in a bad or wrong way, simply in a it’s-how-it-is-way) has the power to destroy human life and with it a significant amount of other life. That is one of the distinct possibilities of our current trajectory. What is obscured by the shadows within is the highest form of invitation. Bringing subtle awareness into the temple of being to discover what is there is no small task. It is however what is required. Not when there is not enough oxygen in the biosphere to support life as we know it any longer, or no clean water to drink, or when daily a human opens fire on other humans such that we’ve grown numb to it, but now.
It requires shining a light on what is happening both within and without. Looking at how our choices—ones that are often unconscious—are impacting one another and our beloved Earth on whom we rely for survival. It requires choosing to wade into deep discomfort within that many aren’t aware is present due to over externalization (we externalize as a mechanism to protect ourselves from pain) and a gross perception (as opposed to subtle) that prevents conscious intimate contact with or awareness of it.
The process of staying with—maintaining awareness within the uncomfortable contractions, tensions, or other sensations that occur in the heart center, chest, belly, or wherever they show up and/or maintaining awareness on the sensations of the inhale and exhale, in a continual return from rumination back to the sensations of body or breath, a process from which arises insight and deep wisdom with regard to habitual mental patterns and energetic patterns buried within—is how the powerful muscle of awareness into ourselves and the greater unfolding is cultivated into our ally. Rumination is seductive and costly. It takes significant strength and determination to unstick our awareness from well-worn pathways of story we’ve unconsciously created and unknowingly perpetuate with regard to our grief, sadness, anger, rage, jealousy, etc, to the reality of the present in which we find ourselves, and stay with it.
This process is the alchemization that pressurizes the carbon into the sparkling crystal clarity of the diamond. Our presence literally is our superpower. A very wise person once said that if you turn a light on in a dark room the darkness must go away. Within the womb of darkness germinates the miracle of new life, the ground of infinite possibility. When we uncover what lies hidden in the shadows within we no longer project blame, dissatisfaction, or responsibility for “the way things are” onto other. At the level of totality there is no such thing as self and other. The experience of self as separate from other and separate from the rest of life is an illusion that subtle perception burns right through. What we project outwardly onto any form of other is merely a reflection of what we’re (often unconsciously) perpetuating within.
When mired in thick underbrush reality appears a certain way. When liberation occurs such that one is afforded the internal freedom to travel from the underbrush to the top of a distant peak, reality is drastically altered. So it is within as what is buried in the shadows is illuminated, liberating us from ancient chains that have plagued humanity for eons. Whether or not it is apparent from your perch, our shelf-life on earth is at stake. At the level of the absolute (from whence we’ve come)—the level of the cosmos, black holes, burning stars, and birthing galaxies—whether we survive here for any duration is of little consequence. It matters to us, however.
The ancient chains are broken by feeling, by alchemizing, what our ancestors could or would not. It is hard-wired into our DNA to care very much. To care for the air, land, water, animals, and each other. To build bridges, not walls. If your child, mother, father, sibling, dearest friend, or animal was trapped in a burning structure I am certain it would get your attention. If you saw the firemen doing nothing as the house was actively burning around your loved one (or unknowingly fanning the flames), would you stand far away and spectate, turn and walk away, or might you move much closer to investigate your role to assist your loved one from the burning fire? We are there. Our loved one in the burning house is each of us, all the children yet to come, and life on earth as we know it. We are in this together.
We decide how our precious human story unfolds, consciously or unconsciously, breath by sacred breath. We keep the balance of light and dark. Darkness is not an enemy. It is the place where the germination of the miracle of life, of possibility, occurs. We decide what germinates there. No one else. It is time to open fully to the shadows present within in order to bring light to the shadows that are seemingly without. It is time to stop looking outside, projecting blame, and damning others for what lies within their shadows, which is merely a reflection of our own. Though uncomfortable, this journey alone is what reveals to us the essence of what we are. It is a journey we make alone, together. It requires getting up close and personal—aye, inhabiting for as long as is required—the places that feel painful and contracted within, and the places we can’t yet feel. It requires touching the void. There is no quick fix.
It is indeed a very exciting time to be alive. The potential is rife with infinite possibility. The miracle is already here now. The responsibility that came with the gift of human consciousness ought to be taken very seriously. Our now is the heaven or hell that we decide it is, whether that decision is made knowingly or unknowingly.
The alchemizer is our presence. It is cultivated in silence, in stillness. Just like splashing the dark water to reveal the exquisite phosphorescence inside. When our still and quiet presence inhabits the painful parts and the shadows (our own and others) holding a loving presence patiently, persistently, and without judgment, the phosphorescence within illuminates itself and burns distortion clean. Every time we bring our awareness, our potent consciousness from thought, from rumination, from judgement (of self and other), projection, or transference back to what is occurring within (which is synonymous with bringing it back to the present moment), the splashing phosphorescence grows stronger, bigger, and shines brighter light and more love. Hairballs of mental and physical distortion untie themselves as new mental pathways are laid. The thinking mind doesn’t give us the flashlight for the journey within. This journey creates the healing that we so desperately need and want. Since the past, present, and future are all happening now, solutions to what we face are already here. One of the many gifts of being human is the ability to begin again, right now.
When humanity is gone, the earth—with her powerful life-force—will, over millennia, begin the slow process of repair. Fungi, mycelium, and the anaerobes will clean up the catastrophic mess we’ve created. New life will emerge from our darkness. With the time we have left here, however long it may be, we have the option to step up and act like the human family that we are. To assume responsibility of stewardship of the earth, of life, and each other that we signed up for with the gift of human consciousness. We are children of god, the alchemists so delicately weaving the balance of light and dark into our human story breath by breath. It is such a beautiful story, tragically so. On whom are we relying for our human birthright to love one another beyond borders, to care deeply, to protect our earth, to survive? Perhaps it is time to spend quiet time in nature, in front of a candle, in deep silence going within the temple of being and receiving the powerful guidance that percolates from the ethers when things quiet down there. Ask for guidance. All of eternity is poised and listening.
Your human tribe is here with open arms, eyes wide open, and unconditional love. Believe in yourself because the power of creation is within you. When buried in the shadows, away from the light of understanding of our awareness, our power can distort and create mental patterns that wind into hairballs of self-doubt, mistrust in the all-that-is, deep fear, cynicism, utter outward projection of suffering onto other, and result in the unconscious destruction of life, our planet, and each other. The prevalence of anxiety, depression, and dis-ease speak to this. When brought into the light of our awareness, our presence alchemizes those hairballs and contractions into the love that we are, and the experience of peace and unity with all of existence. This is one of the infinite possibilities present within the ground of potent bedrock within us. We need each other as we unfurl our human story breath by breath. If you need guidance or resources, reach out.
Who am I? I am a writer, a nurse turned nurse practitioner who has taken intimate care of the infirm for over twenty years. My hands have been more soiled than you care to think about. Like most of us, I am on a journey of healing, of acceptance. More importantly, however, I am your human tribe, your family, your fellow traveler. I am a student of deep silence. A child of the eternal. I am your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, child, grandchild, sister, brother, closest friend, deepest ally, your enemy. Your student, teacher, servant, and master. I am the light, the dark, the day, the night. Dusk. Dawn. I am the steady chirping of crickets on a summer eve, the coo of the mourning dove, the hawk soaring over-head, the large cat in stealth-like pursuit of prey, the gentle summer mist, and driving spring rain. I am the crackling fire and bitter snow, the rainforest and the desert. I am the whispering grasses on the plains and the crashing ocean waves. I am life, death, the sun, and moon. Like you, I am everything and nothing.