Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The dark Thing

Meg's eyes ached from the strain of looking and seeing nothing. Then, above the clouds which encircled the mountain, she seemed to see a shadow, a faint thing of darkness so far off that she was scarcely sure she was really seeing it. 
Charles Wallace said, "What's that?"
"That sort of shadow out there," Calvin gestured,"What is it? I don't like it." 
"Watch," Mrs. Whatsit commanded.
 It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow. it was not even as tangible as a cloud. Was it cast by something? Or was it a Thing in itself? 
The sky darkened. The gold left the light and they were surrounded by blue, blue deepening until where there had been nothing but the evening sky there was now a faint pulse of star, and then another and another and another. There were more stars than Meg had ever seen before. 
"The atmosphere is so thin here," Mrs Whatsit said as though in answer to her unasked question, "that it does not obscure our vision as it would at home. Now look. Look straight ahead." 
Meg looked. The dark shadow was still there. It had not lessened or dispersed with the coming of night. And where the shadow was the stars were not visible. 
What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort? 
Meg's hand holding the blossoms slowly dropped and it seemed as though a knife gashed through her lungs. She gasped, but there was no air for her to breathe. Darkness glazed her eyes and mind, but as she started to fall into unconsciousness her head dropped down into the flowers which she was still clutching; and she inhaled the fragrance of their purity her mind and body revived and she sat up again. 
the shadow was still there, dark and dreadful. 
Calvin held her hand strongly in his but she felt neither strength nor reassurance in his touch. Besider her a tremor went through Charles Wallace, but he sat very still. 
He shouldn't be seeing this, Meg thought. This is too much for so little a boy, no matter how different and extraordinary a little boy. 
Calvin turned, rejecting the dark Thing that blotted out the light of the stars. "Make it go away, Mrs. Whatsit, " he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
(A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle, pg 71-72)

I used to think that things like bitterness, anger, selfishness, entitlement and greed were such sad sins. Given an inch, they grab hold of the individual, perhaps even making them think they are a victim, and cloud every bit of who they are. Every perception, every dream, every thought held captive by the sin that so easily ensnares. So you're angry. The focus of your anger doesn't even know so who else does it hurt but you? I thought that those sins were about that person. And I felt sorry for them. Poor sad person caught in sin (aren't we all?!).

The older I get, the more the world around me is teaching me that that isn't the case...at least not the whole story. Bitterness and anger spread like angry, black tar oozing and engulfing all that's in it's path. The dirty fingers of selfishness, entitlement and greed reach and grab everything within reach; choking, strangling and stealing all the life they can. No one is exempt. No one is free. The black Thing reaches, shadows, covers and darkens.

Remember that old kids' movie "Fern Gully?" If you don't, that's fine. Just don't tell me. It's not really that good by today's standards and, well, was a long time ago. Long story short, there's a rainforest and it's full of life. Not so far off the truth. As is the case in rainforests, there's someone trying to cut it down to make a buck. Again, not so far off the truth. Cutting down the forest, kills the life. Still with me? Now here's where it gets a little bit fantasy. Some of the life in the forest is a whole fairy civilization. Anyway, there's a character in the movie called Hexxus. He's an evil spirit (I think) and he/it thrives off of the pollution created by the machines used to cut down the trees. He becomes this dark, black ooze, destroying life and blocking out the sun.

It's that picture of a Hexxus type creature that comes to mind when I think of what such deep seated bitterness can become.

I say this with no condemnation or judgement. There is no pride in me as I think through these things. I have lived it. In some ways, I am still living it. That person that I was angry with? Well, they didn't know I was angry with them, right? It didn't affect them at all. But oh, how it affected me. Deep down in the depths of my soul it changed me. Made me something different. Discoloring my view of the world and my perception of truth. Holding on to the ugliness brought no satisfaction, no joy, only a desire for more anger. And it wasn't limited to me. Those I care about most were painted by it's blackness. It colored their view and their perspective. It was with that realization, the hurt I was causing them, that made me begin the difficult work of forgiveness and letting go. And let me tell you, it is difficult, gut wrenching, painful, a few steps forward and a few steps backward kind of work.

But let me tell you this, light is in the work. Truth is there.

I live on the other side too, where the mire of someone else's bitterness and, heaven forbid, hatred not only keeps them from moving forward but the rest of us too. We are all held back, bound, by the reaching arms of unforgiveness. And it hurts. The pain is far deeper than the painful work of letting go.

Light can be there too. 

Again they focused their eyes on the crystal ball. The earth with its fearful covering of dark shadow swam out of view and they moved rapidly through the Milky Way. And there was the Thing again. 
"Watch!" the Medium told them. 
The Darkness seemed to seethe and writhe. Was this meant to comfort them? 
Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure. Then, slowly, the shining dwindled until it, too, was gone, and there was nothing but stars and starlight. No shadows. No fear. Only the stars and the clear darkness of space, quite different from the fearful darkness of the Thing. 
"You see!" the Medium cried, smiling happily. "It can be overcome! It is being overcome all the time!"
(Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle, pg 91-92)

It can be overcome. The darkness, the ooze of bitterness, the ugliness of hatred and unforgiveness can all be overcome. There can be light and freedom and hope and joy again for all.

Photo from http://draco6767.deviantart.com/art/Hexxus-from-FernGully-140499382

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