Tenderly Holding Darkness and Light

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Blog | 1 comment

November has arrived and, in my part of the world, it means the days are much shorter and the nights are longer. Heavy socks and flannel shirts are a must, and our cats want to be next to us or on our laps as they seek warmth far more often. In this very moment, our young cat, Olive, is sitting on my lap while I’m typing this blog. She is keeping my lap warm and I’m enjoying her light snores, though it’s not entirely comfortable to work this way.

This is a perfect example of November to me, an opportunity to hold the dark (in this case some physical discomfort and less efficiency with Olive on my lap) and the light (enjoying the warmth I receive from her, and also appreciating her sweet mannerisms – like snoring).

Holding the things we appreciate and don’t appreciate is apparent all year, of course, but it seems especially poignant to me when there is less daylight and when the weather is colder.

Here’s another example.

Our new refrigerator broke, and because of a variety of reasons, the manufacturer hasn’t been able to get a replacement to us or to fix it, so we have been without a refrigerator for over a month now. I have spent this past month feeling deeply frustrated by the situation, and have done everything I could possibly think of to inspire a different outcome.

Nothing about the refrigerator changed, so it became time to shift my focus to a longer term solution

We borrowed a college dorm sized refrigerator from a friend and we purchased a small freezer, both of which are now housed in our garage.At first this seemed completely inconvenient…

I spent a lot of time working through my judgments about the store we purchased the refrigerator from and the manufacturer who made it, empathizing with my frustrations and annoyances, and connecting with my needs for support, ease, and caring.

Then just yesterday, I went to the garage to pull my lunch together and noticed that our pomegranate tree needed tending… And then I saw that the garden needed support, so I spent about 45 minutes working outside with beautiful, warm sun on my face and body. In the middle of my workday, this is unheard of because I have so many projects that I manage!

I got out of myself and tended to our precious tree and garden. I warmed up instantly – inside and out – and I loved it.

This is where I could begin to let the light in – and in surprising ways… I realized that I actually like having our refrigerator in the garage because it forces me to go outside a few more times a day than usual, feel sun on my body, and invites me to maybe tend to other outside things.

I spend so much of my days inside and on the computer, it is a relief to have small reasons to go out more – especially now when there is less daylight. In this moment, I can readily hold the dark (inconvenience and annoyance) with the light (love of friend who is letting us borrow her small refrigerator and joy of extra moments in the sun).

All of it is real and I don’t want to deny any of it.

As we move deeper into fall, I will be inviting moments of light – even amidst the dark – so there is space for it all. I will be reminding myself that I’m big enough to hold both. And, I will harken back to what Michael Brown said, that “Joy is feeling all of our emotions.”

May you remember that you are big enough to hold it all too.

By Mary Mackenzie

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1 Comment

  1. Karen Zach

    Mary—I appreciate how you juxtapose the light with the dark, satisfaction with frustration, warmth with cold, summer/fall with winter. You remind us that real life lies in living within these paradoxes, that we often don’t get one with ever experiencing the other, and that we are big enough to handle the contradictions. I also commend your focus on gratitude. We often don’t know why things happen the way they do, but there’s often a pearl hidden in each of the trying experiences we’re faced with. I practicing savoring the simple moments—daily. Often, when I feel the world beginning to feel too hurried, I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and focus on each moment.
    —Thanks for sharing your wisdom and thoughts.


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