Monday, December 5, 2011

Rainforest Middle: The Gift of Dark Days

"We may be blinded by the light, but in the darkness there is healing."
-Mothering in Wilderness: A Sermon by Melva Sampson (among many other references)

This is the part of the year where the darkness prevails. Sun gone before work gets out. Kids barely have a chance to get home. This is the time of year where usually I start protesting. Who even thought human life in this part of the hemisphere at this time of the year made sense. The time when I shake my head, convinced that my ancestors from closer to the equator want my body back. Where the workaholic in me used to lament the short days and way they made everyone, including me, just want to go sleep.

While I was in middle school, my mom was in graduate school for psychology and sometimes I think I internalized her textbooks. During very normal occurrences (like pretty much at the same point in every moon cycle) I start diagnosing myself. And every year as solstice approaches I get clinical. Wanting to sleep all the time? Less energy? More reflection? Is this it? The the onset of the depression I've been vigilantly looking out for since I was 12?

But FINALLY (if not necessarily actually for the last time) I have been able to get over it. I am not in the wrong place at the wrong time. The sun is not gone, the planet is not wrong. The moon is not laughing. And I am not a robot that is supposed to work unchanged as the planet shifts. This happens every year. Darkness prevails. And it is a gift.

This understanding of darkness as a gift, more general even than my hard-won, intergenerationally taught black self-love and communal appreciation, at least as cosmic as my blissed out love of the sacred skin of my partner, came from an experience in a rainforest at night.

How did I end up in a rainforest at night you ask? Good question. I surely didn't imagine my Quirky Black Behind would be in a rainforest at night, but lo and behold while in St. Croix communing with the spirit of Audre Lorde and the awesomeness of Gloria Joseph I met a Quirky Black Midwife (Hi Dr. Chinzera!). And as she and her daughters taught me about the ecological and cultural history of the resistance of enslaved Africans in St. Croix we manged to stay in the rainforest through a rainstorm into night. And there, in a darkness I had never experienced, much much deeper than out-in-the-country or even Anguilla darkness which is interrupted by the brilliance of stars and the often moon. This darkness, where even the moon, or a possible star beyond the rainclouds, was covered by layers and layers of cathedral trees, was the most extreme darkness I (with the privilege of having adequately supplemented nearsightedness and therefore mostly uninterrupted vision) have ever experienced. And for me this darkness was a profound shift in my relationship to my own ability to see. My own understanding of vision. This was a darkness that was not empty but full with huge trees and vines and animals and plants and the sound of rain touching everything that I could not see. I was safe with a family of folks who had lived in communion with the rainforest for years, but profoundly alert and awake. Surrounded by the undeniable presence of everything that I could not see, I could feel my heart.

And like a miracle I started having revelations. I was able to sense invisible but profoundly present truths in my life. I was able to get intense clarity on unseeable futures. I made major life decisions. (Like my decision to get trained as a full-circle doula and to start a mother-daughter doula practice with my mom! But more on that later!) I arrived at a major truth about life. There is so much happening, so much surrounding us that for many reasons we cannot sense with whatever senses are dominant to us. And for that reason many truths with healing power for us remain outside of our consciousness. I got clear about the fact that there were many realizations crucial to my own healing that were right there in my heart, invisible. And until darkness, aka that situation where it becomes necessary to be aware of everything that you can possibly be aware of, whether it is obvious or not, whether is is accessible by senses I am used to using or not. Darkness is the gift of the infinite presence of transformation. Like they say on the Blackstar album..."the color of the universe."

So now, during these dark days, I am present to the gift. Darkness is full of revelations, delicious unknown truth that I get to learn through stillness, intimacy with myself and others. The use of ways of knowing that I usually ignore. And so this year as the days get darker I am gathering food, preparing food, treasuring the warmth of friends and spending much time in my sweet little cave visioning a future I couldn't see before. Drawing dreams in marker, learning new methods, and incubating plans and schemes that won't see light until 2012. (I can't wait to tell you! But I will! :)

And so I am wishing you the gift of your own darkness, and for those who share this part of the hemisphere with me, the gift of these darker days where dreams are so thick we can touch them. And sleep into them and grow deep in ways no one will know about for a green while.

So eat and stay warm. Sleep and be satisfied. Dream and be dark.
I love you through the coldest day with the warmest need. Forever.


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