October 14th 2012…
This morning is full of contrasts. I have been awake a couple of hours, long enough to walk the dog and check the various inboxes that now populate my desktop. Outside it is freezing cold, the cars have a layer of ice across their windscreens, the last of the summer flowers are dusted with crystals and the fields are white. In the hedgerows the cobwebs catch the glimmer of sunshine in a tracery of diamond rainbows. The sun is just beginning to light the morning and glows golden in the blue above the banks of fading fog.
Ani was not happy about the fog. Not at all, objecting to it vociferously. She looked at me accusingly over her shoulder, as if it were somehow my fault, when the cold, crispy grass touched her feet. She looked so funny I could not help but laugh aloud in the morning.
Thankfully the little lane that runs between wood and field is usually deserted and only the birds and a startled weasel saw the small idiot woman raising her arms to drink in the rising sun and laugh with joy at its beauty.
Thawing out with a coffee in front of the computer screen, there was more to come. In one of my inboxes that beauty was echoed by a letter from a dear friend. It was so wonderful that the bubble of joy in me burst into tears at what he had written. He had shared with me a glimpse of his heart’s happiness and it moved me deeply. Moving soggily to the next message, I found it was from his wife, the reason for his joy, and she mirrored it in every word. Such beautiful souls, both of them, and I feel so blessed that their lives have touched mine, even from so far away. For a moment, on this cold morning, they invited me in and warmed me by their hearth-fire with their happiness.
So, I sit here suffused with joy. Yet, in so many ways, it has been a heck of a year… a heck of a few years really… spattered with the dark mud of grief, fear, loss and pain. And though many things have altered, nothing has really changed. One cannot wipe the blackboard of memory, emotional scars do not heal completely, but continue to ache and twinge when they feel like it. So why, when every day cannot but help remind me of grief, when each morning throws up unavoidable images of the battering life can give, why the joy? It is the contrast, I think. The dark and the light.
The more I think about this, I know with certainty, the less I would choose to be one of those apparently lucky people who live a comfortable life of permanent security with no major upheavals to contend with. They may be very happy people, or they may be those grey, bland folk one sees with dying eyes. It all depends on how they have chosen to view life. Yet, without the contrast of the darkest of times, can we truly feel pure, unadulterated, unreasonable joy?
Not for the first time… and certainly not the last, I think of something a wise young lady said: The stars are always there. Why do we not see them? Because it is not dark enough.
It is this very contrast that opens us to emotion at both ends of the scale. Were these words written in grey on a grey background, you would not be able to read them. The starkness of black and white makes them visible and allows communication, heart to heart.
In accepting that the darker times are as much a gift as the happy days, in embracing the depths of their emotions and the lessons they bring us, we are painting the canvas of our lives with a deep, velvet black against which the colours of happiness can sing. As we walk the path before us we can remember, no matter how hard it seems, no matter how alone we may feel, that it is in that very darkness that we will find the portal that will allow us access to Light and joy.