Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Look Toward the Light



Our kitchen contains a narrow rolling island made from an antique console table my beloved got from the church where we met over a decade ago. It's looking rough after all its years, but it's useful for chopping veggies, stirring batters, and shucking hard-boiled eggs, which was my pre-breakfast task this morning. In most kitchens, you stand between the countertop and the island, facing in toward the room, but I often work on the opposite side, because there's a window over the sink, and its light is helpful for my aging eyes. 

I've been co-existing with depression over many months of pandemic, and have learned that it's a thing which behaves like the tide. Sometimes it hangs back and you have space to putter around and do what needs to be done. Other times it washes in deep and with seemingly serious intent, halting motion and leaving you helpless to do much more than wait it out. Today was one of the crashing-wave times. My spirit was heavy and my mind discouraged, overwhelmed with worries and the mountain of things I'm not doing a good job of getting done. 

The eggs needed shelling, and my beloved waited for me so we could strategize about our work for the week. It was a rainy morning, and I moved to the far side of the island to face the watery light. 

It reminded me of a night long ago, when I wound my way through the woods toward the outhouse at my ex-husband's family cottage. The privy was set a fair distance away from the central compound, and the walk curved around and down, out of sight and away from the light of the buildings. My flashlight's beam illuminated the pine-needle-strewn path but little else. There was nothing to fear in that quiet space of looming trees. No people for miles. Bears bedded down elsewhere and uninterested in my proximity. Squirrels and chipmunks startling in their scurry but welcome company. But it was eerie, walking toward the increasing darkness. Leaving the light behind.

It was always a relief to head back afterward, knowing that in another few steps the light from the big cottage would appear around a final bend. 

What a difference the disposition of light makes to our feelings of safety and comfort. Even though I could be standing in exactly the same place, when I faced the darkness there was fear and subtle dread. When I faced the beckoning light there was expectation and hope. The actual safety of the space was exactly the same. I was no farther or closer to danger, no more or less content with the mess that was my marriage, and my being was the same facing either direction other than the state of my bladder.

But the light made all the difference.

I felt that same sense of lifting this morning, when I shifted from facing into our rain-dim kitchen and instead turned toward the window. I felt more light as I watched my beloved's face assessing my sadness a few minutes later, and plotting how to help.

We can handle a lot of darkness in our lives as long as there are sources of light to turn to. I hope you are able to both seek light, and be it.