There are many writers whose work I admire, and among them is First Nation Canadian writer Richard Wagamese. In his book One Story, One Song, one of the chapters is called “Impossible Blue.” In it, the author describes “a special shade of blue that appears where the sun meets the horizon every morning. It sits in that mysterious space where darkness meets light, where night begins its brightening into day…. You need to sacriﬁce some sleep and comfort in order to be out under the sky when that colour emerges,” he says… “[but] for me, that colour is gateway to the spiritual realm.”
Several months ago I began to rise early enough to meet this blue. I had been moved by Wagamese’s description, but I was ﬁnally inspired to rise in the dark because of my friend Bude, who is of Cherokee heritage. We were attending the same gathering and like Wagamese, Bude was sitting in the dark each morning to welcome the earliest light. He never encouraged me to consider making this practice my own, never even spoke about what he was doing or why. It was me who asked. I saw him sitting there in the dark early one morning and I felt my heart open without knowing why. The next day I too sat in the dark underneath the stars. I don’t recall setting a clear intention to do this. I simply found myself there.
Sitting up and waiting for the impossible blue seems central to these pages about the dark of night. Watching daybreak from a still and quiet awareness changes the way you meet not only the day, but everything you do.
I recently pulled out my ﬁrst published book, Song for Sarah. The story is a chronicle of the questions I asked of self, life, and God following the accident in 1975. Walking out of a crumpled car with very minor physical injuries seems to me like even more of a miracle today, especially since I was pregnant at the time and gave birth to a healthy child six months later.
I had pasted pictures throughout the pages of the book when it was ﬁrst published. Now I ﬂipped through, looking at the photos. It brought back those days in a visceral way. I was surprised at how many details I’d forgotten. I studied the picture of the old stone church where Roy and I were married. I remembered how cold it was on our January wedding day. How it snowed.
I had two distinct impressions as I began to read. One was that these seemed to be the words of a young woman I had never known. I sat and looked at her for a long while. The second impression was that after so many years, I still barely understood some of the things she wrote…the wisdom that seemed to ﬂow through the crack in the worlds when it swallowed up her dream.
Reading the story from the distance of years, I found myself wondering how she met the dark and found her way, this woman who looks so young and was completely bewildered and confused. How do we bear what seems unbearable? But of course she (I) didn’t actually bear it. Something else was with me in that dark night—and the grace and force of that Presence transcended the sorrow and sustained my life. This knowledge still moves me to tears: The awareness of a Presence who wrested beauty from the pain.
With each passing decade the healing from that wound continues to bear fruit. In the early years I would not have imagined that the teachings would stretch out for the length of a lifetime. But wounds can be deep, valuable wells. Those years and that formative experience will always be a gift to me because of the hidden light that moved in them. The days of waking up to an entirely different understanding of life became a prism that shines with increasing brilliance as the years pass. New aspects continue to appear, and I notice how light passes through a crystal and emanates from it at the same time.
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.