I received a business email last Friday headed by a single word. Darkness.
The meaning was obvious, given the historic financial crisis we lived through last week. There is so much darkness and gloom that many people are having a hard time holding up their heads. This morning I got word of the loss of a significant piece of contract writing business because of the financial situation. I understand the decision. It would be easy for me to see the world darkly right now. I'd have every right to. I have a son in college and a daughter headed that way, a mortgage, the typical bills....responsibilities. I like this client. I sacrificed much over this past year for this particular client. I gave up family time, wrote copy while my daughter was in major surgery, postponed leaving for a family wedding, came back early, turned down other contract work to focus on them, even worried over it while at my Mother's funeral two months ago.
If my life were only about materials things, I would indeed see the world darkly right now. But darkness can be an illusion. There are things to learn in utter darkness. Helen Keller knew about true darkness and light: “ I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden,” she said. “I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.”
I am blessed that my life has included trips to far-away seashores; Hawaii, the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Carri bean and – the most exotic – Tahiti. At sea level, the sun goes down the way it seems to set over our mountains. Rapidly. Completely. One minute you are in long, warm rays of sunshine, the next plunged into chill shadows. In Tahiti, on Moorea, the island is so far away from anything approaching a major city that you go from light to nearly utter darkness within a minute. Walking back from dinner one night we were left stumbling down a gravel road in utter blackness, our tiny flashlights making not a dent in the thick darkness. Darkness so profound, that we could not differenciate between the shape of the land mass and the horizon. Memory told us they were there.
When daylight came, it was as if the night had never happened. Our tropical paradise was flooded with otherworldly light and lush color. It was simply time for the light, just as darkness would return at its appointed hour.
I cannot say that I will spend every day fully in the light of hope, but I can say that I will try my best to stay out of the shadows, to focus on the light and to see what I'm intended to see in the darkness. I think that that is the best that any of us can do. And if, by chance we happen to stumble in the dark on a bit of rock at our feet, we need to pick it up. If we're lucky, it will be a chunk of salt! As far as I know salt is the only rock on earth that we can eat. And as Nelson Mandela said, “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”