Today I was reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She wrote of teaching a group of ecology students by taking them deep into the woods for several days, utilizing the gifts of the earth for their food, shelter, and other essential needs. They learned the wonders of cattails and the treasures of roots hidden in rich black soil just beneath the forest floor. They learned not only the names and properties of what they studied, but relationship with and respect for what they encountered.
This woman I know, the one with marvelous sight, has a great deal of interest in what goes on in front of, around, and within her. What she perceives on the surface is only the beginning. She looks beyond the obvious and draws connections, lacing and interweaving a multitude of details not unlike those found in Robin Wall Kimmerer's exploration of what lies beneath the forest floor. As she brings more and more to the light, she seeks more and more of what remains unseen. The darkness is magic and she craves it.
She is a midwife of stories. She seeks to know the unknown, to invite into being the unborn. She also knows from experience that she simply won't grasp the fullness of what's hidden until what is hidden is ready to meet her. This is a neverending process--there is always more to behold.
This woman dives deep into shadow when others would hesitate even to dip a toe in it. I have cultivated a practice of embracing the unknown because of her.
When I am writing a story these days, I consider at length what to reveal and conceal. More and more, I choose to conceal much and to draw out the process of revelation. That process constitutes the story's sweetness. The hidden is both possibility and potential. What is concealed is the advent of our encounter with the dark--the stuff of life's adventure and authenticity.
Spiritual Practice: I invite you to pull out a hand-mirror, sit in a darkened room, light a candle, and hide the candle's flame with the mirror's face. Feel your connectedness to the earth. Soften your eyes. Invite your darkness to reveal itself to you. What do you see? What is the shape of your darkness? Are you open to naming it, to integrating into the known details of your claimed identity? Breathe deeply and draw your attention to the earth's embrace as you allow yourself to see more and more. When you are ready, thank the darkness and the earth. Journal about your discoveries.