Finding beauty in dark places

A green sprout in a blackened fire-ravaged forest.  A child’s laugh at a somber gathering. Finding something intact after a tornado races through a town and leaves devastation in it’s wake.  Yesterday I took a picture of a row of Redbud trees that had dark blue storm clouds as their backdrop.  Something about the two colors together, made me see the beauty in the scene.

As I thought about that today, I came up with the title to this post—Finding beauty in dark places.   Since late 2010 I have been in my share of dark places that seemed for a time to have no discernible end. There is a Light at the end of every tunnel, but the path is winding and you can’t always see Him.

Unless you have been on a grief journey, you really don’t know what it’s like (and I hope you can go as long as possible without knowing).  I have lost a lot of people in my 50+ years.  A brother, a sister, my mother, grandparents, my husband, his parents, and friends. Not to mention assorted beloved pets.  And yet the green sprout of life springs forth every time after a period of grieving, at least in my case.  The muted colors of winter only last so long and then before you know it,  the yards are green and there are splashes of yellow and red and orange dotting the landscape in the form of flowers.  So it is with the dark places—at first, so black you can’t see much ahead of you—you have no idea how to even put one foot in front of the other, nor do you have much interest in doing so.  You will be like that for a good while, but then a ray of light will push through;  a laugh escapes, a memory surfaces that doesn’t sting.  And though you’re still in that dark place, you find that there is beauty to be had there.

You will find beauty in friends that come and hold your hand or remember you on the especially hard days like birthdays and anniversaries. You will hold on to God as if for dear life but that’s a good thing too.  Your eyes will adjust to the darkness and you will notice there are places where light is finding it’s way through even so.

I wish the journey was straight, but it isn’t.  Sometimes you have to go back over a path a couple of times before you can move on.  But it’s in those times that you notice things you hadn’t before, you find out you’re doing okay and you’re getting stronger which is beautiful in itself.  Recovery was a gradual thing for me;  I had always felt like I had a cloud of sadness over my head following me around. I smiled for the masses but inside I was hurting.  A day finally came when I reached the end of that tunnel and all was sunshine and Light.  The relief that comes when sadness lifts off of you is like none other;  what can I compare it to?  A breath of fresh air, a burden off one’s shoulders?  Perhaps, a very long exhale when you hadn’t realized you’d been holding your breath.

I don’t like having to grieve;  I don’t like the dark places at all and wish that I never had to be in any, but as long as I have a heart that beats, and as long as I choose to let myself love and be loved, those times are inevitable.  Love is the ultimate beauty in the dark places, even if and especially if, the only One left to love is God.  That’s the one thought I could always console myself with—I love Jesus, He loves me;  He will never leave me, nor forsake me and best of all, He will never die!

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