Those of you who know my work are familiar with my views on energy—physics demonstrates that we are beings of energy sending out connections of energy to each other, the planet and the universe. I also write and speak a lot about gratitude, one of the most important emotions. But having gratitude for the darkness is a lot to ask of most 21st century people, including me. In my book “The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss”, I applied myself to the search for gratitude around the worst time of my life—the death of my son. What else could possibly come up that would resemble that loss and challenge me to be in gratitude even in the darkest of times? The answer came this past weekend.
I attended a gathering in Sarasota presented by the Jung Society where we participated in an all-day descent into the realms of darkness—or grief—through the myth of Inanna. Written around 2000 BCE, this story of the Queen of Heaven and Earth is still used today to demonstrate the very real journey into the darkness of our inner lives through loss. The people in the room had experienced losses as varied as aging, accidents, illness and the death of spouses, parents and children. Throughout the weekend, I found myself returning to a recent loss—the loss of the America that I love, specifically through the decline of civility and care. I’ve written about this decline before, but the weekend was a body understanding—not just a brain realization—of what I fear we are losing.
The descent of my beloved country into the darkness, through the raging and angry rhetoric of several candidates for the presidency, and their supporters, is dropping ever deeper into a dark and frightening place of hate. A sludge-like backwash has returned from the dark place and flows over those of us who follow the political process, and energetically out to the general population. We are caught in the descent, trapped in the darkness. In the many descent myths and stories of cultures and religions, the one who is descending leaves behind all their protection, faces difficult and deadly trials and then discovers new champions and new powers that allow them to return to Earth born anew. As I’ve mentioned in earlier articles, I believe Donald Trump is the designated archetype, chosen to show us just how far from Grace we have fallen. If, as I believe, our culture is descending into the darkness of hate and division, I also recognize the opposite energy of millions who refuse to join the forces of hate, though they bear witness to the journey. If we look carefully, we will discover a reason to be grateful and return to the sunshine with the gifts of understanding, determination and grace. But the main gift, or the transformation of the journey, will be recognizing how easy it was to be diverted to our darker natures.
Once we see the power of the attraction, we can create the energy required to defeat those who would reduce us to our basest selves. We did this after the awful destruction of the Native Americans; the horror of slavery; the Hitler-like presence of Senator McCarthy; multiple real and attempted assassinations throughout our history. So we know we can do it again. Our founding families believed that America would be the shining beacon on the hill. We have been and we can be again. But first, we have to look at what has happened and find a way to make sure our shameful history of racism and hate is not resurrected. I suggest we change the energy in our country by starting with one small step, and that is re-learning the art of civil conversation. We can begin with Twitter, Facebook and other electronic outlets where the carriers of hate and false information thrive.
In most of the stories of descent and then the arising, travelers return with the powers of knowing, compassion, empathy and gratitude. But then, the hard road begins. We must complete the journey by putting our new knowledge to work or the heroic journey will be wasted. Our awareness of our plight requires that we act as well as think. We each, with our individual energy, can project love and compassion onto our country, and the world, in our everyday behaviors and thoughts. Time is short.
As poet Mary Oliver reminds us from “What the Body Says”:
a little while and then this body
will be stone; then
it will be water;
then it will be air.