You have been to them. You find yourself on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and when you turn to leave, you are changed. No longer the person who walked up and peered off, taking in the sights, the remnants of a war: rock against water and wind. Never realizing exactly how spectacular it is...until just then. And as you round back to your car, you realize that you are now quite suddenly not the person you were even ten minutes ago.
That happened to me too. I was rafting down the middle of it the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, but I was never the same after that trip. Never the same again. So grateful for that.
That was likely my second mid-life crisis...I have had several. And I am so grateful for each of them. Most of them have these actual physical places that changed me. A place that I found myself, tethered in time and space, feet firmly planted, and there, my life, my internal life changed, it altered...it morphed into something else I didn’t see coming.
It happened one night in March of 1995, when I walked into a room full of people who were once completely filled to the brim of themselves with darkness. I arrived in the same condition that night. So close to death, but still living. If I can even call it that. It is like life was too big for me, so I had to drink life into submission to make it more manageable...even though with every drink I took, life spiraled further and further out of control.
I was so full of darkness that night. At that point in my life, the darkness within me had been building, buttressed by my daily drinking of poison in a very slow and somewhat ineffective daily suicide attempt. I arrived to that particular room, no longer able to contain the tide of alcoholism in the vessel of my being, now the darkness spilling out everywhere like the sloppy handling of a beer in the hands of a well gone wino.
That was me. I walked into a room filled with smoke and bad seating. The light, bright and all too much for someone whose time spent in daylight hours minimal. But there I was. On a porch, on a Spring night. Desperately being choked out by the darkness of my only solution to my living problem. I hovered for a minute on that porch, terrified of what I would find on the inside of that particular building. More terrified to be left alone in my own care and companionship. Horrified at what my life, my internal life had become. The withered barely adult person who stood in place, with her life in shambles, paralyzed by a fear that griped me every minute of my life. And the only release I ever found that worked, now a burgeoning reckoning with alcohol’s rapaciousness.
But not unlike the Grand Canyon, I left that old house that night, a changed person. My time spent among the light bearers, alchemical and I forever altered. Of course, it would require a great deal of work, and fortitude over the ensuing decades. But, never would there be another time, when my act of going to a particular place, so essential to the complete rehabilitation of my life.
So what was it? I mean this building on North Gadsden street was no fucking Grand Canyon. But the experience was similar. And I think I know why...God was there.
Now on the Grand Canyon, it was just me and God. I mean there were other people there, but it was God who spoke to me. It was God who carried a message to me, through the rocky canyons, the raging water, and a man named Evan that forever changed me. My life was never the same.
And so it was that night on Gadsden street. I hovered on the porch, unprepared for what I was about to do, completely unsure of whether this would work for me, and even less sure of what I would find on the other side of that door.
But what I found, what I found was a kind of human filter. All these beings similar afflicted, gathered together in order to live another day and help someone else do the same. These people were once full of darkness too. They were no longer. I mean, sure, I found out later that the darkness is never banished completely. But what I saw that night, was that somehow these people had once been as filled as I was with darkness and somehow, some way, they had been transformed into lightness. They laughed and they loved. They held space, and welcomed in my darkness, unafraid of that which petrified me. They saw it and didn’t shun it or send it away in a tearful panic that my darkness might over take their light. No, they just said:
It is going to be ok!
And then they resumed the conversations that me and all my backpacks of darkness interrupted. They just let me sit there, bathed in their light. And somehow, I was transformed. I changed from the person who just five minutes ago paced the porch in fretful agony, almost fleeing several times. But somehow I summoned up the courage to just walk across that threshold, and I was forever changed.
Sometimes it is a place, sometimes the people gathered, but for me it is my ability to see God in my life that has made these places, these people transformational. I have become a seeker not of the lower companions of my past, but of the light bringers. The people filled with solution and hope. The ones that have the ability to show me just exactly how to drop the mantel of darkness I carry, and laugh in the face of all that seems so perilous. And with that laugh, I am transformed. Changed. Altered. No longer so completely filled with darkness I cannot manage or control. My act of rafting the canyon, or walking across the threshold of 909 N. Gadsden Street, a piercing of my soul, where the darkness spills out of me and the light enters.
I have spent a long time, more than half of the time I have thus far been allotted, working on bleeding out the darkness and filling myself with light. It is really a daily task. A daily thing to do, and be, and work towards. And I will never be done. I am forever to walk among the light bearers. The souls that know darkness, like I know darkness. And to never banish the darkness, but instead create an inhospitable host, where darkness no longer finds a vacancy, there is no purchase available to darkness so it seeks to live elsewhere, in some other soul, whose life has not been pierced by the light of change, the recovery and soul salvation.
It has taken me my life time to learn that it is only God. Really. That changes me. And God can and will use whatever is available to pierce me. The Grand Canyon, a man named Evan, a smoke filled room on a Tuesday night in the early Spring of 1995. Transformation can and does occur in the oddest of places. And the timing is always suspect. Because as much as we want to become different, we seem to not want that more. So the miracle of light enters us with a change, an alteration of course, trajectory mishaps that lead us to the places that can and will change our lives.
In my life, God has talked to me through others, through places like the river’s edge in the bottom of The Grand Canyon, fun moon rising on the horizon. And I was there, darkness seeping out, making room, always making more room for light to remain where darkness once reigned. And it is these places, filled with people or their curious absence that causes the circumstances to come and crack you open, shedding darkness while pouring in the light. Perhaps that is what all humans are, just vessels capable of changing darkness into light...but it just takes us forever to know this, and so instead we walk the earth accumulating darkness, never realizing that we are here only to exchange, we are walking converters. And our lives are given to us, so that we may carry the message, to show other how to empty the darkness that builds within, and fill life with light.
No doubt, it is painful, which is why so many people instead clutch the darkness...but we who have accepted our fate as great transformers of energy, we know. We know that first we must come to know the darkness well, before we are ever granted the strength to walk towards the light.