Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Night terrors and scary freedoms

"People who have learned to live from their center in God know which boundaries are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered, although it is this very struggle which often constitutes their deepest "dark nights"...Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the scary freedom to be who we are, all that we are, more than we are , and less than we are."
-- Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Yesterday's poem prompt from Carry On Tuesday
was a line from the Phantom of the Opera song,
Music of the Night:

"Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation;
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination."

It seemed like it would be fun to play with, so I went through some of my night-time shots to see what sang to me, and ended up with a rather disturbing poem about night terrors, those psychic beasts that haunt us in the wee hours of the morning.

So I was delighted when I read the above passage from Richard Rohr's classic, Everything Belongs: in a way, it felt like I was being given permission to HAVE those dark nights. Because that "scary freedom" we find in faith sometimes forces us to look at our life choices and wonder: am I doing the right thing? Is this where I'm supposed to be? And sometimes, like some of the saints who came before us -- St. Paul, Joan of Arc, and Thomas Merton, to name a few -- we find ourselves in the awkward position of defying the very institution we had thought to serve.

It's easy to get caught up in wondering where our gifts are taking us; easy to imagine both rewarding and nightmarish possibilities that could be waiting just around the corner. I suspect that's yet another reason to stay in Now; to be present to the Presence that lives within and around us. Then we don't have to ask "So what am I supposed to do next?;" we can just relax and be and watch what rises up.

Because -- as we saw yesterday in that lovely quote about madrona as mother -- we are, even in our fear and darkness, being protected and watched over. I thought of that immediately when I shot this image on Sunday's walk: this looked to me like a mother's arm, arching protectively over her children's hands, and brought to mind my favorite line from our Sunday services. The line comes right at the end, when we are being blessed in the name of the father, and of the son, "and of the Holy Spirit, who broods over Creation, like a mother over her children."

Have you ever cradled a child through night terrors -- held them, reassured them, calmed them back to sleep? I have -- many times. I like to think that the Holy Spirit is doing the same for us, holding us even as She invites us into that "scary freedom... to be all that we are."

We are not alone.

You are not alone.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

This is a wonderful read.

I also see in that image, just below Madrona's arched arms, a face and also an arm lifting up a hand to a hidden mouth. And now I have to go read your poem.