Today I responded to someone having a really hard time, what she described as a dark night of the soul. Now me, I unfortunately know about dark nights of the soul! That doesn’t translate, though, into being someone who can help someone else in the midst of one — yet, we do what we can.
I’m including my response here in case it may help someone else in these weird, scary, explosive times:
“I, too, have had this kind of dark night. Very difficult. I was taught a concept by the nuns of the Catholic schools I attended, a concept I threw out for many years, but have since found a truth in that is sustaining: when you are in the midst of suffering, “offer it up” for others who are also suffering, in the truth/hope that our sustaining ourselves in the midst of great pain can be of help and a strength for others, some way, some how. To me, when I suffer, “offering it up” is a prayer that Greater will use all things for eventual good, and a reminder that I am not alone. It helps me have great compassion for others suffering, helps me to keep hanging on without becoming bitter (or bitchy), inspires me to search for all kinds of ways to reduce suffering, both for myself and for others, and gives me strength to implement those ways in any tiny way that I can. It provides a door for the way through, even if the way is so much longer than you think you can bear.”
When I was taught this in grade school, over 55 years ago now, the full phrase was “offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory”, and was surrounded with much sentimental piety that just doesn’t work for me anymore (if it ever did. . . ). Yet, the first part of the phrase has never left me, and I think it says something important about solidarity with others, and committing to change, to using whatever power we possess to lessen suffering. It’s also a commitment to never forget what it feels like to suffer so much, so that whenever we can, we help not from pity, but from an experiential basis of solidarity. From and for “us”, rather than “for you poor people who are hurting”.
Last night there was a protest against police violence, held in Denver. It turned ugly, frightening, and violent. My teacher, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and her family were there, and she wrote a bit about it as a comment on her blog. I include it here, as it is sane wisdom in these times. Last year on her website, she spoke about how at any kind of peaceful protest, there will come people who are specifically there to incite violence, one of the reasons being to give the peaceful protesters a bad name. At that time, she said that anytime we join a public gathering, march, or protest, to be sure to carry with us water and a protein bar or two, a fully-charged phone, enough money to get home in a hurry by taxi or however, and phone numbers for emergency, including your lawyer. Shit happens. She also told us that if violence occurs, run in the opposite direction from the disturbance. We can do far more for good if we are alive and healthy. Don’t let the sensationalism and excitement serve to rob our power to make positive change.
Tonight was a sad frightening night as during a peaceful protest here in Denver regarding the clear murder of the gentle giant George Floyd in Minneapolis by one police officer while three other officers watched and did nothing…
where i live as things began to get out of hand, shots were fired by a protester, and people began to riot. A man drove his car into the crowd hitting one pedestrian and then all manner of matters erupted.
There are many parts to what happened. And it is a terrible opportunity to put into practice what we have been studying here: Being Light and Being Love here, and referencing MLK’s teaching us about how to make progress in Justice sore needed in every part of our planet.
I will write a letter about what happened and what actions my family and I have and will take, including leaping over the wall of the overculture that keeps allowing atrocities to happen without Justice before , during or after.
I see the same and same everywhere: It’s not just the injustice. Its the wanton blockades to gaining the attention of those who can say yes to one’s demands for decency, truths and just outcomes.
I see it in India, I see it in Quebec. I see it in the Ozarks, in Appalachia, on the Reservations, on the Reserves, in the Borderlands, at the Boundary waters. I see it in Ivory Coast, in Mali, I see it in Queensland, I see it in Hawaii. I see it in Borneo. In Central and South America in every nation, in Mexico, in the Everywhere
It is time my dear Sons and Daughters of The Light and of Love, for us to be on the move again toward our seed blessing/ planting, as we have already begun. Holding hands, carrying our lighted lanterns up and across snow wind mountain.
Let us see about Planting Two new seeds: one for our consensual reality: Justice. And one in the other world: Justice.
Let us see what we can see that we have not seen before.
Let us hear what we can hear that we have not heard before.
Let us Love what we have not Loved before.
Let us Light what we have not | Lit before.
Let us do what we have not yet done before.
Think on these things mis queridos, my beloveds, with precision not rancor, with blessing ways, not bitterness, with vision, not vindictiveness.
Remember, self-purify, for hatred has never been the cure for hatred, though oddly enough Fierce love is often the remedio for no Love… A Just heart is the remedio For an unjust mind.
I love you with all my heart. Please rest: tomorrow is a new day Not yet written upon.
Greetings to you, my friends, on this New Moon in May, 2020!
I’m feeling a shift in the air, in my world, in my psyche. After a week of non-stop rain, the sun is shining, and maybe I’ll believe Spring is here to stay. My city is opening up, slowly and carefully, after the Covid 19 shut-down. Personally, I’ll wait another week or two to see how it goes, but at least I can drop off the library books we’ve had sitting here in the house for 2 1/2 months. Inwardly, I feel a very strong shift: I’ve finished a painting, first time in months, I’ve cleared up a lot of clutter in my study, I’ve finished reading a pile of articles I’d saved because I’d really, really wanted to read them (then never gotten around to it!), and am ready to start another project. As many of you know, I’ve started writing on the book I’ve been wanting to do, and I’ve now enough notes and more than 25 pages or so —- not enough to feel confident that I really will finish it, but confident enough to think that finishing it is not just possible, but probable. I’ve decided to devote my moribund Instagram account to post my progress on the book, and will get that up and running in the next few days. Please join me over there for progress reports, short excerpts, and . . . . more paintings! My plan (remember that having plans does not mean they’ll be implemented as envisioned, but at least plans give God something to laugh about!) is to continue to post on or near the New Moon here on my blog, and about once a week or so over on Instagram. This is a big step for me: it’s setting up an accountability system to keep me writing, AND it’s doing so in a public way, on the social media which I am extremely ambivalent about (that is, the time-sucking abysses of FB and IG). Plus learning curve, which means even more time on social media. . . . Wish me well, please.
In addition, those of you who follow Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ blog on Facebook, know that she has been posting, since just before Easter, a series of missives from her journey up the mountain and her Holy Saturday vigil there. She has committed to 40 days’ writing of what she discovered in that vigil, and now, about 1/2 way through, she has encouraged us to prepare for a personal ceremony to take back our birthright of gifts of the Holy Spirit that we were born with. I have what she has suggested we gather, a few sprigs of a favorite plant (in my case, white sage), soil, water, and the summary of many (many!) writing exercises she’s offered in the last weeks. So, this ceremony will be a new beginning of sorts, as well.
In the last 10 weeks of staying at home, I’ve realized that though I sorely miss seeing my friends and having d&r’s with them (deep and real conversations) and zoom is NOT my new best friend, I actually feel physically better staying home. I must not underestimate the stress and toll on my body of running around. People have talked about how much free time they’ve had, and had challenges in using the time well. For me, I have felt as busy as ever, though not stressed in the busy-ness: never underestimate the time it takes to nurture family relationships in challenging historical times, and never underestimate the time it takes to care for a body in chronic pain (uh, that’s me!).
I don’t yet have a poem to accompany this painting, but the inspiration for the painting came from an experience of the oneness of all that is, a sense of the huge light and love that incorporates everything, and that invites us to be aware of it and to participate in it (or something like that —- those experiences are very hard to put into words). The painting is 20 in. by 20 in., and the circle is highly, highly texturized:
I started by writing my intention on the back of the blank canvas. Then, I intuitively painted the canvas with a mix of colors. Once I began to have an image of what I wanted to paint, I started with this:
Then I intensified the color:
And knew the center circle of wholeness needed to be much bigger:
I colored the blue to be more cerulian, sky-colored, and then added the double rainbow. Dr. Estes’ journey to the mountain started with her seeing a double rainbow, and rainbows have been very meaningful to me at crossroads times in my life. They’re beautiful and hopeful.
I knew the circle needed something but needed to think on that a lot. I remembered constructed images of what the sun might look like up close, with millions of nuclear explosions happening at once, one after another, a roiling, moving, almost alive ball of gasses transforming. But how to get that feeling? I used a thin layer of modeling paste, applying it in a spiral. After many layers of paint, yellow, gold, iridescent pearl, more yellow, glitter (love glitter!! Though it doesn’t show in the photos, the painting just sparkles!). More gold, moving outward, showing the ways forward, the ways that cross. . .