How do you cope when you must sometimes experience a side of life you would rather not see? Here are some thoughts that may help.
These are early morning musings, taken directly from my journal...
The dawn is so beautiful. I want to sit in the darkness here for a moment in order to appreciate the shades of salmon and turquoise creeping across the sky. The trees still appearing somewhat barren from winter's influence spread their black silhouettes like a collage of webs across the sky's canvas. Dark on light, good and bad, contrasts… Nothing is as it appears.
The sky is brighter now in the moments it has taken for me to write this. The sun appears, like a warm bubbling brew of orange light, bursting up and lifting the last of the night's darkness of its back.
Day and night cycle back and forth as they have for millions of years. The cycles and the seasons illustrate our lives. We live in patterns of light and darkness. When one moment feels euphoric and another feels desperate, it helps to remember that the sun always rises again and chases away the darkness.
When we are in the grips of despair, we forget about the patterns of cycles and seasons; that light always follows dark, and that the dawn always arrives, no matter what.
I've always heard that "the darkest hour is just before dawn." How appropriate. How comforting to know that we only have to hang on a bit more, and we will see light and joy fill our world again.
As an individual, I may not be able to stop global warming or murder or cruelty. But I can be a light in the darkness, whenever and wherever I am able.
Even on days when I feel lost in the shadows of sadness or despair, as soon as I meet someone who hopes that I can help, I feel light pouring in -- through me, to that person. Words of comfort and wisdom flow effortlessly, benefiting me as much as the person I am consoling.
So as we give, we are given. As we help, we are helped. When I feel helpless at the enormity of problems facing the planet, I remember some of the sayings from my past… "The greater the darkness, the brighter the light. Even one candle can be seen a mile away when it is dark."
When we feel filled with darkness, we must let the light in and allow it to fill us. That can be difficult if we forget that the light exists.
And the light does exist.
The sun rises every day. Each new dawn can bring a promise of hope, of new life, of joy in the moment. That can sound trite in the face of grief, loss, horror, fear...
Life and pain can become overwhelming at times. So we face the pain and embrace it. Acceptance is the beginning. And sometimes we have to accept our inability to lift ourselves out of the fog. We have to ask for help. That is another step back to the light of a new day and a new beginning.
Being alive means facing death. Standing in the sun means acknowledging that night is just around the corner. We cannot run from it.
I used to feel that if I didn't get to stand in the sun for a day, I missed the only chance I had to feel good. Now I am learning to appreciate the night, too. A sky filled with stars, or patterns of clouds, or moonlight -- all of these are gorgeous to behold.
Learning to stop and breathe in the beauty that surrounds us will bring us back into the present moment. The breath is a force that blows away the darkness and sucks in the light. We can choose to focus on the breath, rather than our sadness. We can choose to focus our attention on the breath and feel the tension and fear dissipate with each exhalation, imagining that we are inhaling joy, relief, freedom and hope. And when the darkness is inevitable and surrounds us totally, perhaps we can look for the stars, or patterns of clouds and find beauty there, too.