Some of my very first memories as a young child revolve around bedtime rituals. After washing up, brushing my teeth, and saying my prayers, there was the inevitable “chair ritual.” In my bedroom I had a toddler sized table and chair set that my parents insisted were in the shape of a puppy and kitten. As innocent as that may sound right now, I can assure you that when the lights went out those chairs turned into monsters. Every evening I made my dad lay the chairs down on the floor and if he forgot, at some point deep into the night, I would cry out for my dad to come rescue me. “There are monsters in my bedroom!” I would scream. This time he’d not only have to lay the chairs down but, as a precautionary measure, I’d make him turn on the lights.
Isn’t it interesting that most of us have some version of this type of memory? From the time we are old enough to be aware of the dark, we are afraid of the dark. As we get older we believe we out grow these childish fears, but we don’t, not really. Our fear of darkness is still filled with monsters they’re just not the kind of childhood monsters we imagined lived under our beds. In the words of Stephen King,
"Monsters are real. They live inside us, and sometimes they win.”
When death’s darkness sets in, no matter who we are, no matter how fearless in life we believe ourselves to be, we tend to resort to primal, eternal, childhood fears of the dark. It is human. It is natural. But most of us don’t want to acknowledge just how afraid, as grown-ups, we can be. Finding ourselves surrounded by our dark fears, knowing they won’t be dispelled simply by the flip of a switch, we often deny the experience itself as a way to survive within that darkness.
Darkness delayed, however, is not darkness denied. There is only one way through the dark and that begins with venturing into the dark. Don’t run from the dark. Don’t hide from the dark. Stop. Face it. Enter it and begin to journey through it once and for all.
You can do this work.
You must do this work.
You will do this work because you are here to carry the fire and that always begins when we face our monsters within the dark.