How to Shine in the Darkness
“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
In everything I write, there is light. It colours my words like paintbox shades, I see in shadows and falling flames. Somedays I think I have forgotten how to write. I pick up a memory and the quality of the light comes to me.
Today feels like October, the light is diffused through the strato cumulus clouds. It’s a blindfold for heaven, (as I read in Virgil yesterday). The light is diffused and soft, it’s still morning and there is promise in it. The clouds could burn off later, the mist may part. It’s not cold today, but I can’t see the sky. Perfect for photography but not perfect for me.
This is not the light I love. I admit it freely now, I am in love with Aurora. The bright sharp light of dawning, which deepens, over saturated and bright at midday. I love the overblown colours, the unrelenting divides. I love the white shards of light which echo about us, back and forth across the white-paved courtyard.
The light was hot on Sunday, blue-bright beginning, cobalt and chem-trailed sky. It pulled me onwards, I saw adventure and heaven in the summer firmament. It was the dawning in the darkness.
Oh, you know that moment, I know you do. When dawn finally creeps into your grey bed and you can breathe again a little. You survived the night, and holding on to childhood prayers, things must be better now, they have to be. Those finally few hours before the light comes are terrifying.
If it is true that we are closest to light at our darkest times, then I must have spent this summer surrounded by secret phosphorescence, my lambent heart hidden from my eyes.
I have read that God is closest to us as we stumble in the darkness. That is when we most need the sheltering wings of the angels, those dark, bitter nights when our prayers seem lost. Or perhaps just delayed.
Light time for me, came in a sap-rising, confident burst of adventure. It came in brightness and the last hurrah of summertime.
One hundred and fifty miles
One hundred and fifty seven photographs
Three rolls of film
Twelve hours on the road
Thirty pounds of petrol
No map and an itching to escape
We ended on the beach at sunset. Light fading behind darkening clouds, we’d dashed down, racing the sunset and chasing the horizon. I wanted to feel the water, taste salt, alive and fragile. To watch the sun set over the sea. Glowing coronas arching across the rear-view mirrors, bleaching out the shot but so beloved.
Lunch was olive pâté and crackers in the regency park in Cheltenham, all afternoon sunshine and copper beech leaves.
I needed more film and he bought me good black and white from a chemist built above ancient city walls in Gloucestershire.
Dinner came from a radical café on the wrong side of Bristol, gorgeous graffiti and posters for zine festivals lining the walls. We waited in line with a husky dog, a lady with a glittery sea-green wheelchair and a young girl with charcoal dreadlocks and her broadsheet spread crinkling over the old Formica counters.
I can’t forget the light, my own personal rebirth. Light is unlimited in it’s shades; crimson and cerulean in broad brush strokes on the sky canvas, saffron, sweet tangerine of spring mornings, pale ochre and burnt umber sunsets, the plum of nightfall and violet moonrise.
He wrapped me in soft french linen and deep quilts to ease my aching bones and itching scars. Carrying me inside, the curtains drawn to shut out the night. I found my ease in that dim place of sleep.