“In the depth of the winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
The dark hours
There are times when the dark hours come. Sometimes these hours span days, months or even years.
It feels that the darkness is everywhere because it is in the heart.
Darkness fills all the space it finds on its way. Whatever place darkness enters, it becomes fully embraced.
There is no recognition in the darkness but overwhelming cold, ugliness and alien-ness.
There is loss.
There is pain.
There is confusion.
There is uncertainty.
There is depression.
There is negativity.
There is no way forward.
There is little hope if any.
There is nobody to understand you.
There is fear that lives on you and from you.
There is solitude, so deep and penetrating that it hurts.
There is darkness. Darker than ever.
Expanding. Heavy. Intense. Electrified.
You shout but nobody hears.
You cry but there is no relief.
You act but things are getting worse.
It is hard. Very hard. The hardest thing ever.
What are the dark hours?
They are an experience of death. Not necessarily the physical one (for which you can prepare and welcome with peace), but oftentimes the slow process of dying from old thinking, old configurations, old patterns, old systems and an old form of You to which you don’t fit any longer.
“How can it be?”, you may say. “You have no idea what I have been going through. My father had a stroke and needs daily care, my health is compromised, I failed the driving/diploma test, I lost my job, my marriage is breaking, my mortgage is hefty and my child is seriously ill. I am screwed. I am angry. I am scared, exhausted and terrified.”
Well, I have an idea.
I have been through this multiple times.
Talk to people and you will find out about their dark hours. Darker than your own.
Think of Christ who had to endure the dark hours of total solitude, rejection and abandonment, just before crucification.
Knowing this doesn’t help, does it?
The dark hours are your personal experience of death. Nobody can replace you in this. You will go through it and rise renewed if you cooperate with the process.
You and I suffer not so much because of the pain, confusion, work, fear or solitude, but merely because you and I resist to accept them and face them heads on.
You and I suffer because we resist the change that is on the way, anyway.
Of course, we resist, because resistance is the natural reaction. It thrives on the fear of the unknown, which seems to be wired into our existence.
We want to live our lives as if change cannot touch us. When a change comes we feel it goes against the way it is supposed to be. We become frustrated. Or angry. Or depressed.
We expect life to remain smooth, stable and predictable. We live as if we will never have to let go of anything. We will not become ill, get abused, loose our beloved ones, start over again in a new carrier, leave our motherland, buy a new house, loose credibility or reputation by mistake, suffer the loss of material possessions.
It is an illusion.
By observing nature and the ways things develop in life we see repetitive cycles of birth, stages of development and death. This holds for plants, animals, humans, things, ideas, theories, models, concepts, businesses and so on. We see changing seasons, fluctuating economy, and cycles of progress.
We need to understand that impermanence or change is the true nature of our reality. We logically know it, of course, but we have not yet truly accepted what it means. This knowledge should become the knowing.
The idea of an unchanging, static universe is a myth that our ego happily clings to. Our ego has a limited perspective so (s)he wants to stay in the zone of the known, where (s)he attaches to everything that is valuable. This brings comfort.
But regardless of such desires, the crashing realization will come one day: change is inevitable in you and me, in our loved ones, in gains and losses, in ends and beginnings, in starts and closures. In the whole world. The swing between polarities and the cycles are in operation.
The only way to ease suffering is to accept change, allow the process and trust.
Perhaps your father will need daily care and love until he dies. Be in charge.
Perhaps your carrier progress depends on your top-notch health. Take the responsibility for your health.
Perhaps a purposeful job or a more fulfilling carrier is awaiting for you to be discovered. Ask for guidance and look around.
Perhaps your marriage needs a new way of listening and communication to build a great partnership. Start listen actively.
Perhaps you can find a way to earn 1K on the side to support your mortgage payments. Commit to it.
Perhaps your child can thrive on approaches that follow the natural practices based on herbs, tinctures and healing with whole foods.
It is up to you to open up for new possibilities.
What to do in the dark hours?
There are two things you can do. The first thing is to surrender. The second thing is to find the light. Both are necessary.
Surrender is about your trust that things are going to be fine because God is taking care of you. Or, if you don’t believe in God, it is about your trust that things are going to be fine because there is an intelligent process in nature that sees to the progress and swing between polarities.
You just allow to be carried through the experience.
To surrender is the easiest and the hardest thing to do, however.
It is the easiest thing to do because you just need to say to yourself “Breathe. Pray. Relax. The dawn is coming soon”. Then you do something to relax and release the accumulated tension.
It is the hardest thing to do because it requires a conscious decision of letting go and let it happen. It is about the loss of control and trust. This is difficult because we have learned to cling to the old as if it was the matter of our survival on the last floating piece of wood on the huge ocean.
Open you arms. Breathe out. Smile.
Find the light
In this context, light is anything that makes you feel lighter in order to release the heavy burden from your shoulders, heart or stomach.
Oftentimes, the light is not gone at all. It is there all the time but you are contracted to a black dot that sees yourself as the whole universe there is. When you stand with your back to the source of light you will only see the shadows.
I know it is hard to find any light in such a case. Please be sure it is there.
Even tiny, tiny light in the darkness improves visibility and enhances clarity. It will give you hope.
To see the light, you need to face the light. There is no other way.
- Go out. If there is a sunny day outside, or even a few sun rays coming through the clouds, go out. Sit in the garden, walk to a park or sit on a bench. And simply be there. Sun has a healing ability. For the body and the soul.
- Pray to God. Focus on the Light who is Christ. Ask for strength and joy, despite the circumstances, and you will receive them. If you don’t believe in God, meditate to find your own center back.
- Practice gratitude. Remember people, events, achievements that helped you become who you are and you are thankful for.
- Laugh. As intensively or crazy as you can. Be tickled by your kids or play funny games with them. Watch comedies that makes you cry from laughter. Start laughing out of nothing. Simply exercise the same muscles that you would do while laughing. It will come.
- Volunteer to help others. Seeing the challenges others face will add a new perspective to your life. It will help you to feel blessed even if things are difficult at the moment.
What are the dark hours about?
The dark hours in your life are about transformation. Perhaps a transformation that shakes your whole being and challenges every fiber of your body. It is a total metamorphosis.
As for Christ who was resurrected from death to life, there is You who has to die on some level to be reborn towards the wiser, purposeful and happier You.
The most amazing transformation in nature, we take as a metaphor here, is that of a creeping caterpillar into a flying butterfly. An ugly and limited creature becomes a beautiful and air-borne one.
Caterpillars spend most of their lives on eating and growing. They grow by shedding their skins as they cannot stretch. The final molt produces a chrysalis, inside which, the caterpillar is being dissolved.
These are the dark hours of letting go of everything and rebuilding towards something new.
Everything the caterpillar has been so far is no longer there. She becomes a mixture of fluids from which an adult is going to be formed. The moment an adult is ready, the chrysalis opens up and the butterfly crawls out. It pumps the fluids in, stretches its wings and flies. Into the sky.
Whenever you are and whatever is happening, be assured, the dawn is coming soon.
You need to sacrifice the caterpillar in order to transform into the butterfly.