Thursday, December 21, 2006

Belly of the Whale

Inside the belly of the whale, it is dark. Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. For a season, this season, I am being called to let the tears wash over me, to wail, to cry out and let the pain envelope and comfort me. Happiness will not suffice for now. Joy seems so distant, so far away. Sorrow—its mirror image—hangs closely round my heart and soul.

I must learn a new way to comfort myself, and the way does not involve putting on a smile and taking care of everyone around me. How can I suffer—exist—live in the dark night of the soul when all around me are hollow words of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays"? “Cheer up,” well-meaning friends say. “Get over it,” I tell myself. Easy to say, but I don’t even know what “it” is. I see fear in the eyes of my loved ones. They worry that I am not happy. “You’re not yourself these days,” they say. “I hope you come back soon.” But, I have not gone anywhere. This is me—all I am able to offer—right here and right now. Maybe it is not all of me for it is more of the sorrowful side—some would say the dark side. And, just as I have been known to burst with joy, for now I am bursting with sorrow. I am learning that both are essential for the fullness I desire.

Give your burdens to the earth—the strength of the mountains—the vastness of the sea—God—only these can carry the weight of my burdens. I am called to lay face down on the ground as the Muslims do, connecting my head with the earth. Feeling the solidity beneath me. It is holy ground.

Belly of the whale. It is dark inside here and even as I release myself to the darkness, I begin to feel lighter. A twinkling light. There must be great darkness for the tiniest light to shine. Wait. Just wait. It is the reminder I have heard throughout this advent season. Wait.

“When you are in the belly of the whale, let go, detach yourself, let the pain carry you where it needs to take you, don’t resist, rather weep, wail, cry and put your mouth to the dust, and wait.” Ron Rolheiser


Anonymous said...

I am glad I have found your blog. I will say a prayer for you, for whatever that may be worth to you.

From what little I have looked around here, you seem to be a lover of nature; amd I wrong?

For some reason--I am not entirely sure why--I thought of this poem by Wendell Berry when I was reading this post. I'll offer is as well, again, for whatever it may be worth to you. I wish you much peace.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my childrens'’ lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, Collected Poems

Kayce aka lucy said...


i nearly cried (actually i did cry a little) when i received "the peace of wild things". as things would have it, i had never heard that poem up until a few months ago when a friend sent it to me as we were going through a particularly challenging time with our son. you are now the third person (all from completely different realms) who have sent that poem to me--each at a time when i could really use it. thank you for listening to the voice that prompted its sending and thank you for your prayers.
i am delighted to have stumbled across your blog. it is a place i will return to often.

blessings to you this holiday season.

Anonymous said...


I love the surrender I hear in your words, surrender to the dark night, the winter, the wait...I add my voice to your knowing that in the damp, dark ground where it is quiet albiet alone, cold, and silent much new life is being formed in the unknowing. I groan with you and smile at the possibilities that lie ahead!

So glad to call you friend!

Kayce aka lucy said...

blessings to you, cheryl. ah yes, here's to "the possibilities that lie ahead!"

Anonymous said...

I love that Wendell Berry poem as well and I love where the Rolheiser quote took you in your reflections. I just received a copy of Thomas Moore's new book The Dark Night of the Soul and he has some wonderful things to say about the soulfulness of sorrow.
Blessings, Christine

Kayce aka lucy said...

hi christine--the moore book is one that 'found me' a couple of months ago. i have been pondering its words off and on and i love the permission given to look at the soulfulness of sorrow.
also, thanks for the reminder on berry, his words need to move out of the comments and into the mainstream!
fondly, kayce