“When you come through a phase of pain or isolation or suffering, the light that is given to you at the end of that is a very precious light”, writes John O’Donohue (my bold/underline), whose words have been my companion these last couple of months. This idea of a light earned through hardship, isolation and brokenness he calls “quarried light.”
Sometimes in my vulnerable moments that voice of self-doubt breaks through my shield of eternal optimism to question what, if anything, I’ve gained by everything I’ve been through and everything I’m still going through. It helps to know that, if nothing else, I have earned some quarried light.
God knows I’m going to need it as we go into second pseudo-lockdown here in Vancouver: work has dried up once again, but this time I’m alone instead of with family and pets, this time there’s a lot less hours of daylight and a lot more hours of darkness.
Our health authority has told us single folks like myself who don’t have a household to “bubble” with can see “1-2 friends” which is a downgrade from the “safe six” but I suppose still better than zero, and hey we’ve been at this for over half a year so I should be used to it by now right? But you know as I do – and I know I don’t need to tell you this because we’re all in this thing right now but I’m saying it anyway just to be clear – it’s not getting easier.
Sure, I have a new couch and a Christmas tree and a closet full of apocalypse survival supplies (not really… okay maybe a little bit). But when it feels like the light at the exit of this pandemic isolation tunnel keeps getting farther away, the little artificial lights my Christmas tree give off seem less and less significant against the growing cavernous darkness.
“If sad, difficult things have happened to you,” says John O’Donohue, “and you have earned quarried light, again and again you should visit the light… allow that light to come round you to awaken the presence that is in you, to calm you, to bring you contentment, and as well to bring you courage.”
All that pain and brokenness I’ve endured is not for nothing. It’s earned me some courage, contentment, and quarried light that’s going to help me find my way through this current darkness. I visit the memories of things I’ve endured in order to remind myself…
That I survived.
That I made it through the pain, isolation, and suffering.
That I was never really alone then even when I felt like it, and that I am not alone now.
That I am going to make it through this next stage of darkness too, and earn myself some more quarried light at the end of it.