Thanks to Parker Palmer who posed this question in a recent blog in the On Being website ( http://www.onbeing.org/blog/parker-palmer-posing-an-open-and-generous-question/7927 ) I have been both consciously and unconsciously asking this question. Like him, this question has taken me into corners of my life that I did not know existed. It has been the saddle of the journey, it has been the undercarriage, the mantra and allowed me to hear and see things that, until recently, I have been deaf and blind because it has made me curious about what I am feeling about difficult and tricky stuff and has been helpful in opening the door in my brain rather than bolting it shut. The door has swung open becuase this question cannot remain confined – it is open, warm and embracing.
So where do I begin? With myself.
The answer does not lie in some divinity or a guru or a politician that promises hope. There is no saviour out there to rescue me from myself. The knowing of this stops me from blaming those whose fault I believed it was that I was tortured and full of misery. I have to come back to myself, accept me with all my frailties and blind spots, vulnerabilities, fears and darknesses.
And to begin with myself I need a lighthouse, sunlight, daylight but I need the juxtaposition of darkness. If there was no darkness, there would be no sunset where darkness meets light, there would be no dawn chorus, no light tiptoeing into the bedroom after the long night.
Where ever this journey takes us, where ever the storm clouds gather, where ever there is personal pain and self-torture there is darkness, there is the swamp and we do have to go into it, wade through it and deal with it – and not find the easy way round because I have to report that the easy way out, the denial of the swamp, the running from the darkness, catches up, in the end.
The bulling voices don’t go away because I have opted for comfort, the quick and easy. They are there at the ringside, in the gallery just waiting for that moment of weakness. And when they ambush me, the pestilence and the plague take on biblical proportions. The darkness that I have been hiding from, smothers me, takes me captive, drives me into the desert, and leaves me for dead, bound as its prisoner.
There is no escape: no special forces unit, no desert rats, no divine intervention, just me and my wits, my innate desire to survive and the question – what do I want to give myself to?