Seeing in the Dark

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Full moon shot Kayal Villa. Photo: Milo Inman

That traveling state of mind woke up a part of my brain that’s been sleeping for a while. I’ve been feeling my grey matter stretch as a fellow Raxa friend put it. An idea I’ve been thinking about started while on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage when a man told my friend and me not to walk the Camino at night. He said, “If God wanted us to walk the Camino at night, he would have put a light in the sky so we could see the Camino’s beauty”.

We were confused- why didn’t he see beauty in walking at night under the full moon and stars? After that, my friend and I began to contemplate how darkness has been associated in both sacred and secular literature with the lack of spiritual enlightenment, lack of awareness; in our language, to say something is dark has bad connotations. We felt more motivated than ever to walk at night.

We began to question how a society’s aversion to darkness could inform everything. We considered how the aversion to darkness could be a deeper layer to the resistance to female equality and even environmental understanding of the interdependency of nature and cycles of dark and light.

I have noticed myself craving the desert since I’ve been in this tropical jungle-like climate in Thekkady, India. Here the environment has so much that is unseen. There may be a frog hiding in the shadow of a leaf or unidentifiable sounds of animals somewhere nearby but not in my range of sight. The open expanses in the desert leaves more of the world exposed.

 

I live in the desert back in the states. Now, while living in its contrast, I sometimes find myself feeling claustrophobic in all the mysterious unseen. I think of being in the spacious desert and it makes me feel comfortable again. I realized after a while that could possibly be my own aversion to darkness that made me miss the light-filled desert. It made me think back to that night on the Camino, when we embraced the beauty of the night and celebrated what we found in its darkness. This motivated me to find my way through my own personal darkness. The environment can teach us to be present with ourselves in different ways than we are used to. I’m so grateful for this time here and looking forward to another month of learning.

 

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