So much of our lives is loud and lit up with ‘things’. We avoid going into the dark because we are afraid of what we’ll find there, we avoid the silence because our feelings are too loud. But we need to trust that we can go into the dark and have the resilience to meet what truths we find there, says Emma Johnson
I’ve been thinking a lot this month about the idea of the quiet dark. As psychologist Gordon Neufeld said: “Happiness is on the other side of the tears we haven’t shed.” We have to walk through the darkness to discover the power of our own light; and we have to sit in the silence and emptiness to discover the rich abundance of our own existence. Autumn and winter, are an invitation to let yourself sit in these spaces for a while.
“You need to say yes to the darkness, and welcome the opportunity to meet yourself in your fullness, bare like the trees, with nowhere to hide,” says author Isla Macleod in her book Rituals for Life. “Entering this season intentionally will enable you to drink more deeply from the well of wisdom winter has to offer. Opening your ears to listen to the silence and surrendering to the fertile darkness will ensure you emerge in spring renewed and inspired ready for rebirth.”
As the nights lengthen, or the silent snow falls, we can choose to turn away from that place of knowing, or we can let ourselves sink into it and be open to discovering all that we find there. Norwegian explorer Erling Kragge, who spent 50 days walking solo through Antarctica with a broken radio, knows a thing or two about what truth we can find in the quietness. In his beautiful book Silence In The Age of Noise he shares some of his insights from his time in the snowy wasteland, and reminds us that silence is both a gift and a joy, and a true chance for deeper self-awareness.
As he says, our access to that healing silence lies within us. “Silence can be a friend. A comfort and a source of deeper riches…shutting out the world is not about turning your back on your surroundings, but rather the opposite, it is seeing the world a bit more clearly, staying the course and trying to love your life.”
So, an invitation this month is to lean into the night, to take comfort in the edges of days, the hush that descends as the day disappears. Go into the darkness with an open heart, surrender to the silence, what will you find?
“To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.” (Wendell Berry ‘To Know the Dark’)