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Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Alchemy of Darkness

Refining Gold

Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”
Meister Eckhart

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., in her 1993 book, Fire in the Soul, tells about having surgery to remove a lump from her breast. Between the time the lump was removed and when the results came back, she went through a series of “what if” question, as any of us would. What if it's cancer; what if I have to go through chemotherapy; what if I die? All of us have faced these moments, or are surrounded by loved ones who have. It seems human nature to imagine the worst case scenario first. Her lump turned out to be benign, thankfully, but it led her to reevaluate her life and her basic beliefs. That is undoubtedly what Meister Eckhart meant when he said that we are closest to the light when we are in darkness.

Borysenko, who is a Medical Scientist, and a pioneer in the Body/Mind movement, suggests that we consider some other “what if” questions that might lead to more hopefulness and optimism. Here are a few: “What if you were a fragment of a larger consciousness?” What if we are one piece of the One Great Soul—unique and yet the same as all the other pieces. “What if One Mind knows itself through its creation?” The same life force flows through all of creation, whether a seed that grows into a mighty tree, or an egg and sperm that grow into a human being. What is the possibility that Divine Mind knows, and experiences, and reveals itself through us, and through the wider world. “What if the purpose of my existence is to become truly loving, and through that love find my way back to the divine source?” We feel most loving when we are aware of the life force in us and in all things, when we are connected to one another and to the natural world.

“What if we find our freedom through struggling against darkness?” What if uncovering the inequities in the world and wrestling with them is the way we light a candle in the darkness. Did a dark night of the soul motivate Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat on that Montgomery bus? “What if you were immortal?” What if this existence is only one avenue your soul chose to walk down? What if your soul knew in advance what the adventure would be, and chose it anyway? “What if the things that seem unfair turn out to make sense?” Would the circumstances of our lives make absolute sense if we were observing them from a distance, or if someone else were experiencing them?

“What if you have all the help you need to find your way back to the Light?” Some of us choose, in a given lifetime, not to find our way back. The danger here is being so identified with our darkness that the light becomes invisible to us. We stay in the dark because it feels familiar, and not because there is no way out.

“What if pain is also an act of service?” Most 12-Step Programs will tell you that the best counselor for someone who is trying to kick an addiction is someone who has actually done it themselves. The pain of rehabilitation and recovery is one way to burnish our gold. Living through the pain of any loss, whether through death, divorce, disease or trauma is sometimes like sandpaper on wood. It reveals the grain and the flaws so that they can be incorporated and refined into a whole finished piece.

There are many “what if” questions we can ask ourselves, and when we do, we will know far more about the darkness, and far more about the light.

                                                        In the Spirit,

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