Through Darkness, Into the Light

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 5:25am
Photo by Alex J. White

Through Darkness, Into the Light

I recently talked with a friend who's spent time in the same deep darkness that I've known from time to time. In the course of our conversation, she shared a beautiful poem with me — a poem she wrote about an experience that helped her come through that darkness back into the light.

As the poem itself says, this may not be for you. But I wanted to share it here, with her permission, knowing that if the poem brings light to only one other person, I'll be glad I passed it along. I know it brought light to me.

by Willow Harth

This poem is not meant for you
unless you too have been underground
choking on your life's debris, and
playing peek-a-boo with death seriously

then the surprise of ten thousand buttercups
out of nowhere on every side where they'd
never been before on my daily walk
might have had the effect on you it did on me

because suddenly

I wanted to understand how these particular
flowers came to be—the whole evolutionary
history of mosses, ferns and angiosperms,
the miracle of photosynthesis and DNA, not

to mention the longings of the Milky Way
to reflect itself in the form called flowers and
in these buttercups, which seemed like a
visitation from the sun, urging me to tell you, in
case like me you had forgotten

we are the universe's latest way of blooming.

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Parker J. Palmer

is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

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This is beautiful. I'm so grateful I stumbled here to see this. I'm reminded once again of the healing power all around us, in nature, in art, in ourselves, and in others. Thank you.

Think you for this and all the Wednesday posts. I have been caught, held and gently led back to the trail with provisions on numerous Wednesdays because of these gentle gifts. Today is especially lovely; I needed to know today that I was a blossom.

I have noticed in the past few years that every time I go underground I come back with something valuable. Even so, each time is as excruciating as the one before, as painful. At the end, I am not sure that any wisdom is going to be a match for the darkness inside. I guess we hang on and come back stronger while we can, and at some point, we may give up.

Reza, I am in complete understanding with you, with the excruciating pain of those times underground. I hope that all of us who must make it through these dark woods will find that path to peace. This was a day of pure pain, but Krista and her guest helped me inch toward the light again. Stay strong.

Loved it. Shared it. Thanks for posting.

Thank you for sharing.

What a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it.

Thank heavens for poets--and for those rays of curiosity and happenstance which lead us to them. It is a small miracle that a few honest and beautiful lines can remind us, again and again, that we are not alone. Thank you.

I too have walked in darkness occasionally, and I have been fed by medicines to cure it. But I have learned that discomforts of the soul can only be temporarily (and incompletely) salved by modern medicine . . . and that the very best "treatment" for feelings that say "you aren't enough" is that field of sunflowers stretching as far as they eye could see, that appeared suddenly when driving on a remote road in Portugal. It was a panorama analogous to Ms. Harth's ten thousand buttercups, one I will never forget, one the recollection of which always calls me back to that unexpected joy.

I can't wait to share the last line with the elementary students I tutor. So to the point and simple to understand!

Yes, many of us have been there, just like the author of this poem, and therefore, YES, her words and experience and the love for life -when it leaves us at times - she expresses in it IS FOR many of US too!!! THANK YOU for the generosity in sharing

Beautifully awesome. I was introduced to Krista Tippet a few years ago and have loved her since. I am 84 years told and am so appreciative of her, her guests and VPR. Krista adds profound depth to my Sunday and my life. Marie, Montreal

I have been reading "Learning to Walk in the Dark" by Barbara Brown Taylor. This poem is insightful and wonderful. Even in darkness we can bloom.

I had forgotten. Thank you for sharing this eloquent reminder.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem and bringing this poet to our attention. For those who have walked through the underground and back, there is always the revelation of how precious and lovely life can be. Just as unexpectedly as the dark descends, so too the field of unexpected flowers appears. Thank you, Willow Harth for your beautiful poem.

Dark night of the soul. Underground. I'm there a lot. There's beauty there. And hope as well. Thank you.