I’m thinking today about readers who are in really rough spots right now – moments or days or entire seasons when fear’s grip is a vice. When that blanket of dark thoughts (Could this possibly by okay? How can I/we make it? Will this really never end?) is heavy and immovable and the thought of it lifting – ever, or at the very least soon – almost funny if it weren’t for how impossible it is right now to laugh.
I’m thinking of people who might be living normal lives on the outside: working, parenting, walking dogs, hanging pictures, picking produce, but who wonder in their deepest, most private places, whether something isn’t truly, fundamentally awful about the way of things – everything, maybe, or even just the way of certain things: a relationship, a responsibility, a circumstance, a life.
I’m remembering a story my therapist told in one of our darkest sessions, a decade ago. She spoke of a Holocaust survivor (I think Victor Frankel, but can’t for the life of me find his Man’s Search for Meaning on my shelves right now to confirm), concluding, ultimately, his long description of the hell that he’d survived with a word so dense with meaning I had to catch my breath when my therapist spoke it.
I hear it and feel my own curled up inner places softening, an invisible thread of hope winding its way slowly through, beneath, alongside the darkest things I know our world to bear. It isn’t in a hurry. It winds its way through the dark things and in between them through things like sunsets, moonrises, the sound of wind through pine-dense forests. It moves alongside lovers, newborns at their mothers’ breasts, quiet glances between friends. Spider webs, river ways, a dandelion bursting through a pavement’s crack.
I don’t know what’s real, exactly, but I know that darkness is felt quite deeply, and that our world is holding all of that darkness while at the very same time an enormous amount of light. And that somehow, when the darkness is most deep, a nevertheless rings gently, resoundingly true. It’s a prayer and an answer, both. A window. A seed. A strength that need not be reached for or clung to because no matter what we do or don’t do with it, the net of it is there. And there. And there. It can catch us.
I hope that in your darkest nights you come to feel it, whether you know it by this name or not.