Out of the comfort zone, discovery
Published 2:51 am Wednesday, September 27, 2017
It is dark outside my bedroom window. I see shadows from the security light dancing on the ground as I reach to close the blinds. The yard hides in deep shadows lying beyond a circle illuminated by the lights on top of a pole beside the walkway.
For a moment, I stare into the night, squinting to make out shapes in the darkness. Suddenly, a question pops into my head, really more a whisper than a thought.
“Why don’t you go outside?”
It takes me by surprise.
“Well, why not go outside for a minute?” I ask myself.
It’s almost midnight on this warm evening, not a time I usually decide to venture out of my air-conditioned comfort. Truth is I hardly ever go out once the sun goes down. I like my “settle down at the end of day” rituals, always ready to sit in my chair until I start nodding off to sleep.
However, something is urging me to step outside of my habits and visit the night world. I open the door and feel the humidity engulf me. The air is full of noise. This is not a time of quiet or stillness. It is a riot of sound, the call of creatures awake to the magic of the shadow world as most humans sleep without knowing what happens while they dream.
The wood under my feet feels slightly damp. I walk slowly until I’m standing in the center of the circular deck, stepping out from under the branches of the big oak that make a canopy over part of it.
My lungs feel the thickness of the air as I breathe deeply. Looking up, I see the few clouds that were here earlier are gone, retreating to the west where a few linger looking like fog against the sky.
Above are stars, so many stars. I do not know their names nor if the one I’m focusing on has a name. Perhaps, it’s best that I can’t put a name to it. Without a label given to it by humans, it is simply what I see without anything but the experience of seeing it. And, in the experience, I feel the expansiveness of creation. The great wheel of life turning around me, moving me with it.
How small is this dot of humanity standing on a deck at midnight looking up at a star millions of miles away? Yet I’m here with blinking eyes and breathing lungs experiencing this moment while people I love sleep peacefully inside of the place I call home. I’m overwhelmed with the mystery of it all, in awe of how and why I’m here.
In the light of day, I won’t see the stars. They will disappear in the glare of the sun until darkness returns to show me they are still there shining their light into the night sky.
That is the wonder isn’t it. That without the darkness I wouldn’t experience seeing the light from these stars. I’d not know the sound of creatures singing their evening songs or feel how the heaviness of night surrounds me.
We need the dark as much as we need the light because there is always the possibility of finding beauty hiding the shadows. However, we have to be willing to look for it.
Tonight I listened to the whispered urge that pushed me to step out of my comfortable ritual. What I discovered is that even when it seems darkest, light shines from the greatness of creation and there are a thousand unnamed stars twinkling their invitation for me, a tiny bit of humanity standing on a deck at midnight, to look up and to experience a moment of wonder and communion.
Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.