A Palette of Darkness

“Don’t be afraid of your dark places,” Mom told her.
“If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.”
Jeannette Walls, The Silver Star

Darkness comes in many hues. Leaving the safe lights of the city I experience this palette as the safe, known glow fades into the distance and the increasingly earlier night descends into the northern sky.

The openness of prairie has moved into the close protection of tree lined roads by the time night comes. Clouds and the sharp silhouettes of bare snarled branches and rising evergreens frame the sunset in its spectrum of yellows and oranges. The contrast of dark and luminous colour stop my breath with awe. The dark is the velvety smoothness of a black tapestry.

The colour barely begins to fade when the rising tree line hides it from view. The headlights of my car seem dim in the claustrophobic intensity of nothingness. The memory of day and past experiences guides me onward as I travel this  narrow human passageway in this immensity of night. My car is a tiny prison and yet a sanctuary from the unknown presences pulsing in the dark stillness.

I reach the house of my friend. The lights dispel that ominous pressure in my brain as my eyes searched for presence in the small space the carried me through the impression of nothingness I had been driving through. I look out the window into the darkness seeing the quiet lake as a dark shadowy promise waiting for the day. The dark is a quiet gentle stillness separating these moments of togetherness from the busy world. It has the quiet rocking gentleness of water lapping on the shore of my dreams there in the house of my friend.

When we go to the party at the local community center, the dark pulses with the dance lights and the soft glow of decorations. It is a backdrop for the laughter, for the conversations and music and movement filling the space. In those moments that my mind seeks rest from the noises around it is a net catching all the stimuli and weaving them into a dome of white noise and shifting shadows holding them around me until my mind has taken its breath and is ready to be with others again.

The time comes to drive home. There is a dimness to the day as miles again separate me from the closeness of my friend. Clouds mass with gathering participation. Though it is daylight there is a dark cast to the world. Dark is a foggy shadow cloaking the brightness of the sun hiding behind the massing clouds.

811Then night begins to descend. The hidden sun breaks through along the horizon opening a brilliance like a world beyond waiting to be discovered if only we could find our way to leave the rules and regulations of the given road and risk trespass on own land to find our way to some hidden gateway waiting just beyond the rim of the seen world.

But it doesn’t stop there. A rosy glow spreads across the sky so that it is present anywhere I look in a water colour washes. A huge pink wing silhouettes clouds in bold relief while dwarfing the shimmering moon as it drifts in and out of clouds. The dark conducts the sky in an orchestra of light and shadow as it 813bslowly hides the clouds in the silky folds of night.

The night falls softer in the prairie sky. The openness of the horizon holds the glow of the setting sun long after the clouds above are disguised by darkness. Along the road and in the distance pinpoints of lights herald the presence of homes. The moon plays among the clouds adding its presence to the light painting presence into the darkness.

Even my headlights seem brighter in the open expanse. Dark is simply a part of the conversation of being in that moment. It is its own presence, the canvass for light as it paints the signs and symbols letting me know I am nearing home.


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