On Light, Darkness, and Healing
What themes have captured your attention lately?
Light and darkness. Our relationship to them. My relationship to them. How they define each other, and what role they play in creative soul healing. How they create contrast and how we use them to shape our perceptions. I have a good friend, Chris Estes, a brilliantly intuitive photographer (Different Breed Photography); the other day he was playing with self-portraits. He mentioned how he uses the Light to hide what he doesn’t want others to see. That struck me. I’ve always thought that it’s the Darkness that hides things, but he was right. Where we shine Light creates the hiding places for the things we don’t want to see. Or don’t want others to see. Or for what doesn’t want to be seen. Conversely, I have found that there is much to be seen in the serenity of the Dark. The Dark can be a form of Light to the mind and spirit. Which leads to this whole question of revelation and what is revealed and whether it is revealed in the Light or in the Dark, or whether we should be revealing as much as we do these days to public energies. But that’s another issue.
As a writer, I don’t work with visual light and darkness in my art (it plays out in emotions and contrast for characters). As a spiritual guide and healer for combat veterans, I deal with Light and Darkness in the depths of energy, wounds, and transformation. We tend to think (or at least I used to) that what is hidden in the Dark must be revealed in the Light in order to transform and heal. And there are certainly wounds that do need Light to heal. On an energy level, Light diffuses dense, stagnant, stuck energy. But Darkness is where Life begins, and it’s in the Dark that growth and transformation occur most fiercely. It’s also where distraction falls away and our senses become more perceptive. It isn’t a bad thing to be in the Dark; in fact, it may be what nourishes you the most. And that’s a very freeing concept for many people to realize.
The whole concept fascinates me and continues to challenge the assumptions I have.
How does Light/Dark relate to healing?
First, we need to define healing. Healing is new growth that restores a sense of well-being and reconnects a person to their innate power. It is NOT erasing wounds or undoing anything. You damage your body, and it doesn’t “undo” the damage, it grows new cells to fill in the gap, reconnect, or transform. The same is true with soul wounds. It’s very important to know what you mean by healing before you try to do anything with it. Healing is transformation. It’s becoming someone new, because wounds and pain and trauma change you. You must start from where you are now — not where you were before you were wounded.
In healing, Light and Darkness are synonymous for Being Seen and Remaining Hidden. And in woundedness, there is a need for both. Too often, we push people to Be Seen, exposing them in a fairly harsh and glaring manner, thinking that if Light shines on their Darkness, healing will automatically occur (the reality is that many times we’re just scared of their Dark). Light can actually be damaging. If the soul isn’t ready to Be Seen, the vulnerability of exposure can be overwhelming and even traumatic. For soul wounds to be ready to Be Seen, there needs to be a high level of trust, safety, and respect by someone who offers genuine care and unwavering acceptance.The heart listens all the time, and responds like a flower to the sun, pulled toward Life by the power of Love and Acceptance. You respect someone’s pain, and hold up a vision of them whole and empowered, and they rise to it. This respect and nurturing is what allows people to come to a place where they can tell their stories, and express what happened to them, what they experienced, or what they caused to happen.
Being Seen, when a soul is ready, is therapeutic because it reconnects you to your sense of belonging. Our stories matter. Every story matters. And each is as valid as any other. This is why creative arts are innately healing, they allow the soul to reveal at its own pace what it needs to express. There is no forcing, no expectation that someone is waiting for you to “get it out” — it emerges in the safety of its own perfect timing. And what needs to Remain Hidden is given full permission to stay in the Dark. It may eventually need to Be Seen, or it may need the safety of the Dark — but either way, the soul can heal when it has the support and permission to do so.
As creatives, we get wounded. Sometimes more from our own ruthlessness toward ourselves than anything else. It’s a constant challenge. We are continually sinking our roots down deeper and pushing forth toward the sun. All the while buffeted by criticism, self-doubt, being misunderstood, and not understanding what Spirit wants to express through us. We need the Dark to protect what is not ready to emerge, we need projects that we permit to remain Not Seen, so that we can heal in the Dark. We need the Light to allow the parts of ourselves that need to Be Seen to have their place in this world. And to show us what our own Light looks like.