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This December, as cold descended on the Pacific Northwest, I felt an old familiar feeling come on. It was a dark abyss in my chest that felt like it went on forever. It had been years since I’d experienced a full winter – from the dimming of autumn straight through to the light of spring – and the propsect of so much darkness frightened me.

As the days continued to shorten, I began to explore the winter within. I’d close my eyes and feel a place where there was no energy and no desire to DO anything: a place that just wanted to curl up in a ball and wait until the sun came out again.

This was a place I’d been running from for years – a place I  feared could take me into a depression and despair so deep I’d never return. It’s a place they don’t have in Southern California and I was scared of it.

But I’d come to Washington to find winter  rather than run from it –  so instead of trying to fake my way around the gloom, I chose to go into it.

For my courage, I thought I’d find something wonderful; I thought words of wisdom and guidance would bubble up effortlessly. I thought I’d be changed somehow. But the more time I spent with the dark, the more full of nothing it seemed.

And yet, I was no longer scared.

I think what I’ve  found is my heart. A place void of words and sense. A place limitless and deep. It’s a  place, I realize, that frightened me not because it was evil, but because it threatened all the best-laid plans of my mind. It is a place that offers me nothing of measurable value and yet, at the same time, offers me my self.

Paradoxically, it seems dark and yet offers light.

Have you become acquainted with your own inner darkness? Or are you still running?