I walk through two narrow and windowless rooms every day on the way from my classroom to our department workroom. The desks in there are almost always empty, the computers that sit on them barely used, and the rooms are dark. The only light comes from either end; the hallway behind me where I’ve come from, and the hallway I’m heading towards. There’s a light switch but I never bother looking for it.
It has become a ritual of sorts, this regular walk through the quiet darkness. In the early mornings the darkness of dawn is matched by the darkness of my corridor; I begin the day at one with myself. Later, having just walked out of a bright and noisy classroom, the silent dark presses in as I walk through it, and my senses relax. It is a moment of peace, a walking meditation. I find myself again.
A long time ago I would have said it was wise to avoid darkness, in all its many forms. I’ve spent most of my life pacing the well-lit corridors of the stories I told myself about myself, never daring to go more than a few steps into the dark that was my deep unknown, my unconscious self. I would stand in the doorway and imagine I knew what was in there. I couldn’t see any point in venturing in. Until I had no choice.
My daily walk through the narrow dark has become a small and tangible image of my own internal journey. It reminds me that although I’m still trekking those deeps, I am heading somewhere. And that the darkness, disconcerting as it is, can be peaceful. There’s no point rushing down there, no race to be won, no performance necessary. There is no audience in the dark but myself. And in the end I find that it is myself that I must discover on this long and dim walk. No monsters lurking in shadows. Just a girl; patiently waiting.
The gift is to keep moving towards her, the treasure found in the walking, in the journey forwards. The movement doesn’t need to be consistent, or even necessarily in the same direction; there just needs to be some measure of mobility. This is grace, as I understand it. To be in shadowed, unfamiliar territory and still be able to take the next step.
This grace that keeps me moving is the sense I have of being part of something that is bigger than myself. And Easter, that strange ending that becomes a beginning, is the most eloquent image I have of this wider, wilder knowing. The one I find myself inextricably bound to, despite my moments of unbelief.
We scoff at the idea of a resurrection; the grand embellishment on a story full of embellishments. A clever trick played by a few grief-stricken apostles. But the motif of death and re-birth is nothing new. It has been with us since the beginning. We’ve painted it, created rituals to celebrate it and told stories to remind ourselves of it, over and over again. If Jesus knew the significance his death would take, then he knew that in dying he was speaking a universally understood language. And if he knew that something waited for him beyond the doorway of death, then his death, that one solitary loss, holds meaning for as many of us who’ve heard it told. The moment he gave up his breath becomes an invitation from one to many. An invitation to move from death to life.
And there’s that idea of movement again. The same one I consider every time I walk through those narrow, windowless rooms. I’m on my way from some where to some where else but I’m also, in a funny otherworldly sense, inhabiting a space that exists within me all the time. That space I walk through on the way to myself. But it’s a glimpse of something bigger too; that wider movement I will never escape. The same wider, wilder movement that we are all part of by virtue of being alive. The one that Christ became part of on that infamous Friday, that tied him to all of us, as we live and breath and move and die. Over and over again.