The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 20, 2014

Ann Leach: Both dark and light should be honored

JOPLIN, Mo. — Dare I say it: Facebook is driving me nuts.  

The majority of posts I read lately are about the weather: "It's cold." "The temperature was -6 today." "The ice is pretty on the trees but not the streets." And my favorite from a Joplin friend just last week: "63 degrees today; that's just not right."

Are we never satisfied, even when it's good? And can we really do anything to change the weather?

This one requires the collaboration of so many bigger-than-us forces that I don't think it's wise to get involved. Mother Nature, the gods, the moon and the ocean tides are all conspiring to give us what we need in the moment. There is a purpose in their plan.

So what I'm choosing to notice in the midst of wild weather patterns is the amazing play of light on the house next door in the early morning Ñ how, in a time of year that is usually the darkest of all for so many, the light is still there and has been visible now for many days in a row. Something is changing in this outer world of ours, and I'm hoping we are preparing to respond. When things are bright with the sun, we are more willing to lighten up on ourselves and others in our world. When things are dark, we tend to go within and hibernate.

I think we need to honor both the light and the dark in our lives. We trust that the seeds we planted last fall are underground and apparently dormant, and yet they are going through an amazing transformation just under the surface that will burst forth in a few short months. We too need that time to plant the seeds of our new year intentions and let those desires germinate, transform and prepare us for the change we seek so that we can burst forth into our true potential.

Does the process always come in a nice, neat package? No. For many of us, there is an extreme low full of doubt and fear and beliefs that have us thinking nothing will ever get better.  

Every religious leader and mystic has experienced their version of this dark night of the soul. As my teacher, Rev. Michael Beckwith says, "The dark night experience is the great spiritual catalyst that threatens to shatter the ego and a sense of a self separate from the whole."  

And Beckwith writes in his book, "Spiritual Liberation," that "Darkness is the depth of spiritual potential hidden in the void of infinite possibility. Light is the manifestation of that potential in the external dimension of time and space."

To make it through the dark, Beckwith urges us to ask, "Where and how can I give of myself?" The question and our response to it keeps us following that universal law of giving and receiving. There is action in that. And without a doubt there is light in that, and it urges us forward, even when we don't always see it or feel it.

Ann Leach is a life coach based in Joplin.

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