Take the Basket

We went berry picking last summer and my youngest decided she wanted to carry each one she picked. After a while she started dropping berries - one, two, three, four - one after the other. It made us laugh a couple of times and then she gradually became more frustrated with her lack of coordination.  We offered her a basket but she didn't think that was the solution and so the dropping continued. She wanted to do it by herself. 


It's not news to anyone that the world is hurting right now. Everyday it seems like we hear about another fire, another violent situation, another alarming statistic, and all of this on top of the pain in our personal lives. The urge to escape is very real to me right now - to immerse myself in a fiction book, in work, in redesigning my living room, in movies, and new experiences. 

Why do we want to escape all of the darkness? Why do we try to avoid pain at all cost? 
Maybe you don't, but I've been doing a lot of it lately. 


“Darkness' is shorthand for anything that scares me - that I want no part of - either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The fear of dementia is in there, along with the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of heartbreak in my life and the lives of those I love - if I could just find the right lights to leave on. 

At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. Instead, 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.” ***


In moments of darkness, we become intimately connected with our fragility - our need for help-  and in turn we learn a lot about our strengths and limitations. We learn about the people in our corner. We learn about our own responses to pain and difficulty. We learn about the things that actually matter to us. And we learn that without the hard and painful, we wouldn't be as grateful for the pieces of light.  

I am beginning to believe that we can hold both in our hands - the lovely things and the hard things. I can mourn with other humans, locally and globally, about their pain, political unrest, war torn communities, resettlement, and more, while still soaking in the joy of my daughter's first goal at a Saturday morning soccer game. I can do my part in practically loving our community through advocacy, generosity, and walking with broken friends, family, and neighbors, while still playing badminton at family gatherings and joining in the heckling and competitive fun. 

I am trying to engage with the darkness - because I know how light can shine even brighter in it's midst. 

I also know we can't do it by ourselves. So I'm learning to take the basket when it's offered to me.

We don't need to carry everything. 

*** Quote from Barbara Brown Taylor's , "Learning to Walk in the Dark" 

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