Editor’s Note: CW Suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call 1-800-723-8355.
Have you ever found yourself in utter physical darkness? Perhaps in an inner room when the lights go out? Or in the wilderness on an overcast night? Darkness presses in upon your eyes, and no matter how wide you stretch them, or which direction you turn, not one pinprick of illumination appears?
But, as you wait and listen, breathless in the still, another kind of “seeing” begins to take place. Your attention, usually so firmly centered behind your eyes, seems to rush, not only to your ears and fingertips—those “natural” reception centers—but also to a deeper set of senses that now become active as your body sends out previously unknown tentacles of awareness, perception, and recognition.
Suddenly, you find you’re not alone. The wall beside you . . . the tree behind you . . . the sky, the ground, your breath, they all become intensely tactile, full of pulsing energy. Stripped of physical vision, your surroundings become almost more intimate and real. You are awake in a new way.
This phenomenon is not unlike the intimate connection of Presence that somehow seems to arrive when we feel abandoned by God—or at least ‘God’ in the way we have known God up until now. If you’re on any kind of a spiritual journey, there inevitably comes a day when all the usual “lights” go out. God seems to stop answering. You find yourself suddenly alone.
Perhaps, like Christ, you experience abandonment of the usual supports. The social structures of government and church fail you (perhaps there’s a pandemic and vast social/political unrest). Friends and family, lost in their own fears, abandon you. You lose your job, a loved one dies, you experience painful poverty and provision doesn’t arrive. You fear the days, and anxiety fills your nights.
Then, even God drops out of view. You beg for a reprieve, longing for just one prayer to be answered—the foreclosure of your home not to go through, your marriage to survive. But the door seems locked and bolted. You search the dawn daily for new answers, but none arrive. The “lights” have all gone out, and so . . . you wait in the dark.
And then, after a time, a new kind of seeing begins to emerge. This time, from within. An awareness that comes through a deeper set of senses, that have now been summoned awake. An intimate knowing, closer than breath:
“I am not alone. You are here with me. Perhaps, somehow you even are me.”
Left all alone, with no outer ones to wrap their arms around us, we turn to our deepest self. Our attention that has always been firmly concentrated on looking out, or even up, now looks within. And there, surrounding our truest self, in our deepest heart, is God.
Maker. Source. Union. One—with us.
There is one more important thing to say about this place: the fear that it will last forever can feel excruciating. I won’t sugarcoat it: in my life this dark time lasted for about seven years. That’s a long time. There were moments, no months, when I just wanted to end my life because I couldn’t see an end to the barren space, and I wasn’t sure I could endure it anymore.
If you’re in that space now, please know there is life after this place. Rebirth will come. God’s promise of resurrection is true. Don’t give up. You are close to the land of living; and Life—the Source—is with you, always.