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Slices of Life

The gift of darkness

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You know how themes sometimes repeat themselves throughout your day, week, year or life?

It happens to me a lot. At least recently. Or maybe such synchronistic occurrences have always been there and I’ve just recently learned to pay attention to them. 

I guess that detail doesn’t matter. What does, is that I’m paying attention now. And lately, a common theme has been darkness. 

Or more specifically the goodness that darkness can portend.

It seems counterintuitive.

To be extremely succinct, the message I’ve been getting is, “Don’t be afraid of the dark.” But it isn’t like the normal ‘don’t be afraid of the dark’ phrase that you might offer to a child after a bad dream or one that might be whispered during a horror movie.

It isn’t like that. In my lesson (let’s call it that) darkness isn’t the bad guy. Instead, it’s the conduit. Darkness allows passage into what’s next: into the light. Darkness allows us to understand the light. Without darkness, light would cease to exist - and vice versa.

Darkness and light need one another. 

Over the last three years, I’ve done my best to attempt to describe and define grief. It’s been one of the bleakest, darkest periods I’ve ever experienced. It’s also been one of the most enlightening. 

Hence the conundrum and the cadence of the darkness and lightness.

Grief is elusive. It lurks in the corner, but fills the room. It excuses itself for a momentary absence and you breathe a sigh of relief but then it is back again and you realize it never, ever left in the first place. 

Grief may seem like darkness. It may be darkness. 

But grief is transformative. It can change its shape and it changes yours. It changes you. It changes all it touches.

Grief begins as complete darkness. You can’t look in front of you, or behind. You feel very alone. But, if you hear breathing near your ear, or feel it next to your cheek, you know you are not alone. If you perceive hope behind you or sense it beside you, you are not alone. If you feel anything - a brush against your skin, the wind moving your hair, the sun on your face – you know you are still alive, and perhaps that is something.

Your darkness may be all-encompassing, but look closely. There is a light, an ever-so-tiny light – a glimmer – in the corner, just within the periphery of your vision. When you turn toward it, it disappears, but it is there. You know it. You saw it. At least you thought you did.

You look again, and there it is. a pin prick of light. Could it possibly be light?

It seems to be growing stronger. Moving toward you, or are you moving toward it?

And with that, you realize the darkness is steering you toward the light. The darkness doesn’t want to hold you or keep or inhibit you. The darkness understands. It exists to show what the light truly means. What the light truly is, and how much we can glean from it.

And in that, you realize darkness has nothing to do with the boogie man or bad dreams. Darkness is necessary to awaken us to its opposite. Darkness is a gift, but only if we make it so. Only if we realize that the darkness is beckoning us toward something beyond. Something more. Something greater. Something beautiful. Something illuminating.

Take all you can from the darkness; steal from it if you must. Use it to grow. And learn. And become wiser than you ever could have become if all you’d known was the light. Realize the darkness is in place to teach; garner as many lessons from it as you can. Let it show you all it knows.

It is then that your own brightness will truly shine.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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