I have gone through a dark wilderness.
When my friend told me this, I smiled, and said it was a very poetic way of saying things. Of course it is poetic in the light of its image. But looking closely, it is not just poetic, it is hard prose... The wilderness itself is a horrible space to traverse, but traversing it when it turns dark is really a hard thing.
Whatever the desert may be, it has always meant a lot to me. I have written about this sometime ago. i did not want to go back to this, but I would like to encourage my friend in her own journey. I will do this by way of images.
The wilderness is not always a dark space to be. It is arid, it is scorching, it is empty-- like solitude. You can go for miles without hearing a sound, but the retreating silences, then you would look and look until your eyes become blind and itchy. You walk for miles, you hear nothing, you see nothing, but you feel the deep hollow within your soul... your own aloneness; you know nothing but the dire desire eating deep within you to go out, to meet other humans-- Rilke says you could open up to anyone who comes your way. Yes, there are times like that. You feel so alone, so abandoned, so misunderstood by others and by the world. There are moments like that when you feel like everything conspires to wrest the only one thing that gave you abiding joy from your palms. Times we are listless, without taste for anything. It makes you sulky, sullen within right? You can do anything to feel alive.
I have known that also. But I remembered the lessons of life.
When the night falls, it is time to rest. It is time to dream. A lot of things grow in that night. In that dark wilderness, nature is hiding an oasis, somewhere (-how cunning life could be), just there at the next turn where the remaining strength could get us. Do you know what? The water in the desert is most refreshing, but because of its purity alone, but because of the depth of our thirst. The more you have been alone, the more you grow in your art of welcome. Unless we know darkness, light will make no sense to us. We talk of friendship in relation to our solitude... and it is in this solitude that we discover that space we have to reserve for others.
The danger in this moment is to despair. And that is what happens o many people in their quest. How sad! The brave hearts know that the times of birth is always like this dark wilderness, we know nothing but desertion and pain-- we are not alone, we are just being weaned from the milk of an easy life so as to mature in our spirit. If you haven't known this distress, if you haven't been aware of this hollow emptiness within you, if you haven't had your own wilderness, then you are still far from being mature enough to love. For, in the silence of that stark desert you know your own word, you understand some of that which says you. Don't try to quit. You will hurt and hurt others. Go deeper into that wilderness. Let it shape you as gold is made to burnish under the heat of fire.