Today’s post serves a dual purpose: My daily Slice of Life Story Challenge and Spiritual Journey Thursday, organized by my friend Margaret Simon on the first Thursday of the month. Thank you, Margaret, for the invitation to host.
I chose to write around the theme of “balance.”
Not necessarily what you may think…
It’s almost here.
Spring. The equinox.
A balance of light and dark in the world, or “equal night.”
My thinking radiates in a number of metaphorical directions here but I’ll begin with the moment I was at school grappling with a new data reporting system that I have to teach to colleagues. I logged in and discovered this message: Alternate Data Entry for Dark Period.
It has the sound of a span in history, like it belongs in the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period, the current one in which we live, geologically speaking (“current” meaning over 11, 000 years old, for the record). As if it can be marked in time like the Ice Age or at least the Dark Ages.
All it means, apparently, is the time when the data reporting system is shut down to be updated. It’s tech housecleaning. During the Dark Period, no additional data entry can occur, until everything is verified and balanced.
The words stuck with me, though.
Many would say we are living in a Dark Period now. It’s an era of strife, vitriol, backlash. An age of ever-increasing concerns over mental health. Over health in general—the coronavirus.
And at the heart of the darkness is fear.
A. Roger Ekirch writes in At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past: “Night was man’s first necessary evil, our oldest and most haunting terror. Amid the gathering darkness and cold, our prehistoric forebears must have felt profound fear … that one morning the sun might fail to return.” He goes on to say that many psychologists believe that our early ancestors feared not the dark itself but harm befalling them in the dark (for it was an unlit world at night) and over time night became synonymous with danger.
Fear leads to anger and anxiety. In the dark, things don’t look as they should; they’re distorted.
What’s the balance?
Now we’re back to the equinox, metaphorically.
Light. Day. The assurance that there’s still good working in the world, undoing harm. Think of the destruction of Australia and the human involvement in deliberately setting bushfires. Then think of soldiers in the Australian army, lined up in rows, cuddling and nursing koalas when off duty. Then apply it to people suffering around our globe …
We are our own greatest enemy and helpmeet. We all hang in the balance of these: despair and hope, destruction and edification, hurt and healing.
In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia A. McKillip describes a monstrous creature like “a dark mist” who embodies “the fear men die of.” The novel is about learning how to live and love in a different world.
That would mean overcoming the dark, the fear.
Incidentally, in a strange balance, the current virus causing so much alarm shares its name with the crown of the sun.
And, speaking of the sun, here’s the secret of the equinox, why it’s not really equal: There’s actually more day than night.
More light. Literally.
And figuratively, it has nothing to do with moving around the sun and everything to do with moving the human heart.
Dear fellow Spiritual Journey Thursday sojourners: Please click the link to add your post to the “party”: