(Center yourself in a quiet place. Light a candle or ring a bell to signal the beginning of your mini-retreat.)
O God, black can be beautiful!
Let us be aware of black blessings:
Blessed be the black night that nurtures dreams.
Blessed be the black hole out of which creation sprang.
Blessed be the black cave of imagination that births creativity.
Blessed be dark wombs that cradle us.
Blessed be black loam that produces nourishing food for our bodies.
Blessed be black jazz that nourishes our souls.
Blessed be black energy that swirls into gracefulness
Blessed by black coal that heats us.
Blessed be black boiling clouds
hurling down lightning and cleansing rain.
Blessed be even our own darkness,
our raw, undeveloped cave of shadows.
O God, help us to befriend black and not deny its power.
Help us not to cover over the dark with fear
but to open to it with your grace
and to be open to your life within the dark.
May we discover the blessings that lie
deep within our holy dark
so that we may freely affirm that
Black is beautiful indeed!
— "Black Can Be Beautiful" by William John Fitzgerald in Blessings for the Fast Paced and Cyberspaced
Read and Reflect
(Read these short passages aloud. Choose one or more of them to copy into your journal. Reflect upon and write about how you can apply it to your own experiences.)
"When we live in a world that is full of the kind of darkness we have now, there's only one hope and that is to go into it and through it, and in our small way, never to try to evade our own little bit of darkness but suffer it consciously."
— Helen M. Luke in Let in the Light by Patricia H. Livingston
"Darkness has become less an enemy for me and more a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation of my soul's growth can occur. Not only is light a welcomed part of my life, but I am also developing a greater understanding of how much I need to befriend my inner darkness."
— Joyce Rupp in Little Pieces of Light
"Life begins and ends in darkness. According to the Bible and according to science, it is from this darkness, emptiness, and nothingness that all of creation comes into being. . . . darkness is a mystery; it evokes curiosity and fear of the unknown, and at the same time it brings us into the embrace of reality. This reality is all around us, pregnant with the existential truths of life."
— Paul Coutinho in Sacred Darkness
"Never fear periods of darkness in life. They are the atrium to new phases of life, the threshold to new experience, the invitation to move on from where you are to where there is more for you to learn."
— Joan Chittister in Light in the Darkness
"The dark night is a profoundly good thing. It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live and love more freely. Sometimes this letting go of old ways is painful, occasionally even devastating. But this is not why the night is called 'dark.' The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and understanding. It happens mysteriously, in secret, and beyond our conscious control. For that reason it can be disturbing or even scary, but in the end it always works to our benefit."
— Gerald G. May in The Dark Night of the Soul
"I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light."
— Barbara Brown Taylor in Learning to Walk in the Dark
"The reason that the darkness is the gateway to all understanding is that once the darkness is understood, you're clear that nothing is separate from you. No name, no thought can possible be true in an ultimate sense. It's all provisional; it's all changing. The dark, the nameless, the unthinkable — that is what you can absolutely trust. It doesn't change, and it's benevolent."
— Byron Katie in A Thousand Names for Joy
(Work with darkness today.)
Give thanks for the darkness which is the yin to the yang of light. Think of how soothing darkness is when you are exhausted and want to rest. Perhaps you recall being irritated in a room where you could not block out bright lights when you wanted to sleep.
"Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again," Simon and Garfunkel sang in a popular song years ago. Make a special effort today to greet darkness and share some of the feelings that arise in you when you think about darkness.
Ponder the darkness as a spur to reverencing the mysteriousness of God. What place have you made for the darkness of the Divine as fertile and transformative in your spiritual path?
"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 in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
(Blow out the candle or ring the bell to signal the end of your mini-retreat.)