It was in the morning hours. I usually get up fairly early and do my little routine. One thing I love about that time of day is the quiet and solitude. A chance to read, reflect, pray, whatever. I love the cloak of darkness, maybe pushed back slightly with a candle or the fireplace. And then the slow but steady transition from night into morning, from darkness into the light. You know it is coming and yet most days I find myself clinging to the fringes of the darkness, even as it slowly slips away and the light edges its way in. Subconsciously I suppose, pushing back the events of the day for as long as I can.
On this particular morning I was still enjoying my cup of coffee, lazily sifting through my final thoughts for a few more moments. Mostly I was just letting morning have its way as it crept slowly into the house. As I watched the shadows around the living room slowly retreating, suddenly there was a bolt of sunlight proclaiming itself over a long narrow space on the wood floor, from the front window all the way to the back wall. It was as if a cloud had been holding the light back but after a long struggle it had lost out and the light was able to break through.
As the sunlight entered into the house it boldly pronounced the arrival of morning and took things over completely. With the rays of sunlight settling onto the floor two things immediately happened. First, our cat Amiga, rose from her resting place and moved directly and (for her) rather quickly into the rays of sunlight. Amiga long ago gave up her fitness regime and at best meanders to and fro around the house. But she knew the warmth that was hidden in the rays of light that cast themselves across the floor and she was not going to miss out on that. So she moved with her steady yet non-taxing pace into the light.
The second thing that happened was my partner Jan immediately got up and grabbed a dust mop. For when the sunlight hit the wood floors stretching from the front of the house to the very back, what previously had appeared as a normal clean wooden floor, was instantly transformed into a dust covered, hair collecting, food crumb mess. Now I do not think our wood floors were really all that bad. But the intensity of the light thrusting itself onto the wood floors destroyed the reality we had been living in, our false “clean floor” reality. The light had revealed items that previously to the naked eye were unobservable. Exposed in the light, I realized that all of what was now revealed had actually been there the entire time, it was just that we had been unable to see it. What once was hidden from us was now exposed, what we once understood to be true, was shown to be untrue.
As I sat watching Jan rectify the situation, using the light to reveal and attack the crumbs, dust, and long blonde hairs (not mine I assure you), it occurred to me that this hidden reality thing is also true in life. We go along in our day-to-day lives and we think we are seeing everything that is before us. But we are not (and often we know it don't we?). Much remains hidden but yet in plain view, and I am not sure exactly why this is. Maybe either it is out of habit, training we have given ourselves or been given by others, rules or lessons forced upon us, or simply due to our own denial or choice, the truth is that we are very capable of not seeing what is right before us.
This could apply to people, relationships, tangible items, opportunities, lessons to be learned, gifts we could receive or give, or so many other things. With some issues we simply choose to keep them in the dark and try never to directly shine the light on them because we are afraid of what we might see, find, hear, or learn, about others or ourselves. In some cases we truthfully may not know these other realities exist so are not even aware that additional “light” is even needed.
Watching this beam of light I realized that I am at the point in my life where I am trying to shine light on everything around me. From life's mysteries I have never figured out, to the things that have seemingly been a foundation to me throughout my life, to make sure they truly are what I think they are and that I should still rely on them. I am tired of the secrets or hidden objects in my life, whether intentional or by accident. I want to know what is there, what I think, what my values are, what truths I hold dear, what people are really like and what they think of me and what role I have in this world. I want to embrace the sometimes painful but healing truths that lie all around me yet I do not see or maybe am just unwilling to embrace. I do not want to just mildly and quietly drift into my elderly years thinking that this is it and that I have it all figured out. I want to shake the rugs, pull back the blinds, lift the shades, and try to let in as much light as I can. And then to do whatever cleaning up is required or necessary.
Thoreau said all of this a long time ago, but I think it is still true today. The unknown and the secrets bind me in ways that I believe still hold me back. They are like keys hidden to the doors I want to open. When I don't seek these things out they continue to control my life in ways I no longer am willing to accept. They keys are there, maybe a little bent and out of shape, but with some work they can be straightened and those doors opened.
What wounds do I still carry? Do I have resentments that have not been addressed? Do I project unaccepted traits of my own onto others in ways that diminish them and prevent me from integrating fully and knowing others as they truly are? Life is too short not to dig in, take a look, hold these objects up, and let the light shine in and reveal all that is there.
Might we uncover things we fear, that we never want to look at or deal with? Certainly. But if leaving them in the dark and covered allows them to continue their hold over me, then the comfort I get from them remaining hidden is a false and painful one. Like weights around our ankles we can't feel. We think we are flying at our highest level but indeed we are not. We are held down by ideas, experiences, people, rules, and fears, that often we may not know exist or possibly we deny, and yet there they are. Keeping us from the life we want and deserve.
So with the start of a new year (a slow rolling start no doubt!), let us shake the shackles from our feet and break free. Let us open the windows and let the light in. Grab the biggest flashlight, candle, torch, or whatever you have and walk into whatever darkness may still exist in your life. Pick up those keys and see what doors we can open.
This journey no doubt can be a long and slow advance, but one that has so many gifts and benefits if we choose to embrace it. Around every corner we look we can discover new and hidden treasures. Some might be prickly and difficult to handle, but as we slowly take one step after another (kind of like climbing a mountain!) and face what lies in the darkness, we step closer and closer into growing into the person we were destined to be.
To all of you, safe hunting in all the dark caverns that may exist in your own life. I will be on my journey as well, and who knows, maybe we will meet up in one of those dark recesses and can share some stories! Keep your head down and may the light always shine brightly for you.