Honoring the Dark Unknown

I recently delivered a program at the New Mexico ASERVIC Conference titled The Heart and Science of Spirituality; I titled my program The Heart and Science of Resiliency in Turbulent Times. The workshop was enthusiastically received, one component of which had to do with how we honor and navigate the darkness in our lives, how we honor and navigate the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, the unknown.

These skills seem particularly important to me during this time of the Great Turning, during this era of challenge, danger, opportunity, and of human transformation. It is all too easy to turn to simplistic answers and actions, to seek to prematurely resolve the tensions of a circumstance in preference to either digesting or truly integrating that which would also change us.

The poet David Whyte addresses this propensity in his poem, The Well of Grief:

Those who will not slip beneath
The still surface on the well of grief

Turning downward through its black water
To the place we cannot breathe

Will never know the source from which we drink,
The secret water, cold and clear,

Nor find in the darkness glimmering
The small round coins
Thrown by those who wished for something else.

Here too is the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in his poem You Darkness, as translated by David Whyte:

You darkness from which I come,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence out the world,
for the fire makes a circle
for everyone
so that no one sees you anymore.

But darkness holds it all:
the shape and the flame,
the animal and myself,
how it holds them,
all powers, all sight-

and it is possible: its great strength
is breaking into my body.

I have faith in the night.

I propose that the enormous challenges of global climate destabilization and the titanic clashes of political and religious fundamentalism will not be solved by the same human consciousness with which we created them, and that we are in fact incapable of solving them with the same cleverness with which they were created.

There is another intelligence however, another and yet deeper resilience from which we can both integrate and transcend these challenges as they move us toward a world of thrivability. I wrote of this in Sleeping with Rumi: Two Kinds of Resilience, and again recently in But for Lao-tzu. Accessing this deeper intelligence and resiliency requires that we first let go of much of what we ‘think we know.’ We must re-wild ourselves in the sense that we must ‘come home to our senses.’ Accessing these deeper resources require that we re-member our wholeness, our belonging, and that we consciously turn to nature as reference for orienting ourselves on the planet.

Presencing and Theory U, as articulated by Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge and Joseph Joworski… provide us with one model for how we can create a practice of honoring the Unkown, a practice of listening for what it is that wants to emerge.

And in this YouTube video, we see starlings reminding us of what it is to be in resonance and attunement with oneself and with others. Indeed, we are embedded in a world of intelligence if we but open our eyes to see:



  1. michaelmanners101

    03/11/2010 at 6:39 pm

    Larry, the mindfulness of Honoring the Dark sends feelings and thoughts=====> in lakesh,<===== we are of one heart when we enter the dark. So many are running away from dealing, we must walk with them and keep centered in our hearts as we do…..this is as you say the "other intelligence" that can integrate and transcend. Our senses are our home, are us, …..and the "Well of Grief" is powerful!…..You shared so much simple and clear truth in this "blade" of grass blog. I will watch the video later after I integrate more. Peace, love, and wisdom….a trinity I can follow.

  2. Judith Sipson

    03/12/2010 at 5:06 pm

    Ah, Larry…you’ve been inside my life! I love this one, and you quote my most familiar sources of centering. Did you mention Tonglen?
    And what is ASERVIC?

  3. Larry Glover

    05/09/2010 at 11:50 pm

    Judith, there is a series of posts incubating here… I’m not sure where they are leading but how could they not lead through the fields of Tonglen? Learning to gift myself with compassion, and then to share this energy in the world is certainly a transformational practice. For any who are not familiar with this practice, here is an excellent description by Pema Chodron: Tonglen.
    And ASERVIC stands for Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling
    Oh, and what an honor that we are resonating inside ‘lives’ here.

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