Dec 22, 2020
“To Know the Dark"
"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 traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” ~ Wendell Berry
These last couple of weeks have had a lot of grief in them for me. November 8th marks 4 years since my dearest brother, John died. November 13 would have been my son's 34th birthday had he not died on December 20th, the day before yesterday, 7 years ago. These anniversaries sneak up on me unawares. I'm not consciously thinking about them, but my body knows.
I started feeling horrible - grieved on the 17th and wondered why. My sister looked in her journal and discovered that the 17th was the day Benjamin, my son went into the hospital. I remember getting this news while living in Indianapolis. They had transported him by helicopter to University of Maryland Hospital in Downtown Baltimore because he had lost consciousness and was not doing well. I asked whoever I talked to on the phone what I should do. "Do you think I need to fly out there?"
I remember going into my room to pack and finding myself laying on the floor barely able to breath. It just got worse from there. There is a distinct before and after in my life pivoting around Ben's death. A year and a half later, my father died. A year and a half after that, my dear practically "Irish Twin" brother, John died. Since then it seems like many friends and loved ones have passed on.
Ben died just hours before the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. The longest night.
I like nighttime more than I like the day. I work best at night. For years I walked at night, keenly aware of the phases of the moon. The sunlight is painful to me, to my eyes and to my skin. I moved to Maine to escape the intense sunlight - to have no one EVER expect me to wear a bikini. :-)
But darkness...darkness is petrifying. Darkness is wretchedness. Evil lurks in all the crevices. I don't WANT to go into the dark. I don't like feeling sad and untethered. I'm sick of crying and grieving and wondering why we're here and knowing THERE IS NO ANSWER to that question. I miss the days of innocence and ignorance. Days filled with fun and love and hugs and hope and doves and watermelon and...swans. Now I am surrounded by angst and neglect and violence and desperation and bats and fungus and...ravens.
I see ravens ALL THE TIME in my new house. Ravens do this crazy dive. They pull their wings in and just...fall. They pull themselves out before they reach the ground. I see this behavior almost every day. When Leia and I walk in the woods I usually hear the deep throated croak of a raven or two. They seem to be flying above us making sure they are still in charge. I love them so much. I don’t remember when I started loving this bird, but they are on the short list of things I want to be surrounded by. It’s a THRILL to me to see them so often, to share this small place on earth with them. I think they're used to me now. They know I’m no threat. I can almost believe they love me too. Sometimes I talk to them when they squawk at us in the woods.
Ravens represent, among other things: thought, memory, magic, wisdom, shapeshifting, death, change, manifestation, trickery, BAD luck, GOOD luck, destruction, war, sexuality, protection, transformation, prophecy, creators, guides, mystery, temptation, messengers, longevity, fertility, primordial darkness, and...light! With such a long and varied list, I guess it’s up to me to decide what this bird means to ME. Maybe I can CHANGE what they mean depending on what I need at any given time. TODAY the raven means to me: memory, death, magic, destruction, change, sexuality, guides, creators and darkness. Welcome Ravens! Welcome to my world, as I am welcomed into yours.
Our earthy existence is so gloriously sinister! The truth is, I love ravens and bats and mushrooms and even have a healthy curiosity about angst and neglect and violence. Instead of pushing the scary dark away, blindly running from it full of panic, I need to stop, open my eyes and face it.
Because it too is beautiful.
(It really is)
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