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Encountering Darkness, Rising from Grief

Posted by Guest Blogger on 10/20/16 7:00 AM

night-tree-spooky-sullen.jpgI ask the dark, have you come for my heart?

I stand at their gravesides in the blue dress someone found for me to wear. The sleeves are stiff, irritating the tender skin of my empty arms. I watch. I am a girl in a dress the color of the sky, and all that remains from the threshing floor of my life are the names of things.

“Sky,” I whisper under my breath.

“Clouds.”

I am saying these words so that I will not lose them. I say them so that my mind, already in danger of breaking, will not slip away. I feel the vowels as they move across my tongue without sound, and I hold onto them. My husband and child have been lowered into the ground. Grief surrounds me.

Only the stars seem to have escaped the descending darkness. Everything else disappeared when the earth opened and my house of cards fell in. My treasured version of life was not absolute. Nothing stirs now but the pull of gravity.

I will not have another chance to be young and unstained. To raise that child, to love that husband. I am not old, but my eyes have grown old. They already see differently and I cannot return to the innocent way they saw before. A profound sense of mystery is all I know.

Precious dreams upended—finished, and at the same time my body harbors a pregnancy. I am the carrier of a secret seed. As if I could believe in a new promise—as if there is such a thing as hope.

The moon, when it rises, falls in slim lines across the grass and drops down into the gaping space that holds the two caskets. It falls across my longing—or perhaps it embodies my longing. I am not sure.

I wonder who is in charge of this moveable world. I want things to return to the way they were. I want life to comply.

I swim at the edge of the enveloping darkness and rest in the middle of the river that is rushing through me.

I am the words from the poem acknowledging, “You will stand there/ very still/ not seeing what this is.”

I finally disappear into the night, stalking truth like a hunter.

I wonder if I have enough courage to accept this rare and beautiful gift called life, which is also able to wound in this way. This gift, it is now apparent, is something I have never understood at all.

I wonder what wants to live. That question seems important.


Paula D’Arcy, author and retreat leader, travels widely in the United States and abroad. Her work includes workshops and retreats related to spirituality, writing, and women’s gatherings, (including women’s initiation and rites of passage). She is also founder of Red Bird Foundation, and serves as adjunct faculty at Oblate School of Theology and Seton Cove Spirituality Center in Texas. This blog is taken from her latest book, Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light (Franciscan Media). Click the image below to learn more.


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Topics: grief, Death, hope, healing