From Tomb to Womb

Breathe Light into Me

My heart is so full it feels empty with pain. I have lost the ability to express anything but loneliness. All I feel is the thin breeze of an air void of any presence. The only thing I feel is the distance between darkness and light.
I cannot move. I am unable to breathe. Darkness covers my everything.
Breathe light into me.
I am at the bottom-but I still feel I am falling. I am surrounded with choices that take me to places that lead me nowhere. My heart hurts. It aches. It bleeds.
Breathe light into me.
Drenched in this darkness I am afraid I have exactly nothing to offer. No treasure with which to buy a match, and no incredible story to bargain for a candle. I do not even know what lies inside of me, or what will be found at the bottom of my depths.
But I am so low. I am suffocating.
Breathe light into me.
I am not asking for answers. I am not asking for order in this chaos.
Simply light.
The night without stars locks away my morning.
Breathe light into me.
Marry yourself to my darkness; share my pain as a lover shares my tears. Say nothing profound, take nothing away.
Breathe light into me.
My heart is so dark it has forgotten how to love. Come, sit beside me; be with me.
Breathe light into me.
Hopeless and sinking, starving for a truth that satisfies–do not let me create a reality of lies.
Breathe light into me.
Breathe, push your warm life-breath into my lungs-for mine have forgotten how to breathe.
Light, light that shatters all darkness and scatters the night.
Into, please, do not settle for coming close to or simply touching me. Burrow inside of my being, hide in my depths and let me digest you-that I may learn to breathe you in and exhale your light.
Me, for I am truly nothing; if you could find your way to me, that alone would be my death and my resurrection.
Breathe light into me.

Since the last time I touched these keys to write a story or project a thought onto the screen I found myself in a very dark place. My thoughts were not my own; my feelings and emotions felt detached from the rest of my body. My physical body ached beyond explanation, and I could find no relief. Books that usually evoked a thorough look into my life brought out unending periods of anger and tears rather than deep conversations about life in this world. Writing or expressing any sensible emotion became impossible and I was thrown into the solitary confinement of depression and anxiety. This post is not about how a pill saved my serotonin levels, or how I “battled” depression (because, as I have come to realize, you don’t battle it…it simply smacks you around), or how God, spiritually, or Religion lifted me out of the miry pit. No. None of that.

This post is not an apology for not writing for months on end. This post is not a how-to guide of any sort. I’m actually going to ask you to journey with me back to the season of Advent. I ask you to journey with me to a time of anticipation, waiting, longing, and a time of searching. A time, perhaps, of waiting for the light in a dark world…

What began as procrastination or taking a day off from cleaning or doing the dishes slowly crept into restless boredom. I was sick of my schedule at work, sick of being stuck inside my tiny apartment all the time, sick of the days being so short, sick of my nights becoming increasingly restless, empty and full of complicated dreams that made waking up even more of a nightmare.

This restless boredom seeped into lethargic unproductive day after day after week after week after…months. Books exhausted every thought and I began bursting into tears because I could not concentrate or comprehend the theological ideas being presented. My mind wandered to those “regions we should not go.”

Slowly I let go of sloth and lethargy in exchange for hopelessness and darkness. My heart retreated so far into itself simple conversations at the coffee shop spiraled me into attacks of anxiety and panic. Lying in bed, sleepless for hours, darkness was my only ‘companion.’ And darkness cannot comfort–it pulls all feelings of comfort from within you and hides it. It leaves you empty. So empty. When morning would finally pretend to show up–a grey sky and white covers of snow, even thinking of getting out of bed seemed too much.

The darkness held on too tightly. I couldn’t breathe, didn’t even know if I knew how to breathe air in. Tears would pour from my eyes and I had no conscious explanation of why. Food, of any kind, did not satisfy but left me feeling empty.

My mind felt detached from the rest of my body. It felt cold, foggy, crowded by a mist, and dark. Everything felt dark…all the time. Every happy story was somehow translated into a mournful lament. Every happy moment was shoved out of sight by anxiety. I felt the only thing I knew was darkness–and the only thing I could offer anyone else was my darkness.

In some movies with a death scene there’s a graveyard. Picture it. Creepy black birds hovering, barely visible, in the grey sky. The ground is brown and dying. And the tombs…names on a stone, but nothing else. A stone set in one place, forever. Never to move, or breathe, or dance, or laugh, or love. Never to live again. I was a stone…with a name, and nothing else. Never to move or breathe or hope again.

One of the wisest women I have in my life at this time is my Spiritual Director.  She has listened to my tales of darkness. I showed her my stone, my graveyard, my hopelessness, and my thoughts. She sat down with me on one of those benches in my graveyard.

We meet together in a church that contains beautiful decorations and very beautiful spaces. The room in which we sit has soft yellow lights. Her voice is slow to speak, because she listens first–not to me, but to the presence of God. And the sound of her voice can only be defined as gentleness in its true form. When I sit with her, I feel a presence calling me to rest.

She sat down with me in the graveyard, but she held a candle. She showed me the flame. She held it close to my face and I felt its warmth. She prayed over me and for me. She breathed its light into me. She carried the candle from stone to stone in the graveyard, praying as she walked, dispelling darkness wherever she moved. She breathed light into a hopeless existence.

We talked of the fog. Thick, wet, dense; it covered every thought. We talked of the air–the lack of air. I felt more like I was swimming to find air rather than taking in deep breaths.  We talked of the gates around the graveyard; I could feel them moving closer and closer. Pushing in on me and crushing me. I had nowhere to go and I didn’t even know or understand where I was. But she breathed light into me.

During the Advent season she pointed out to me the Church in Christ is in constant, vigilant waiting. Just as a pregnant woman waits. We wait for the coming promise of a God who is with us, we wait for the Kingdom of God.

But, also like the baby inside the womb, we wait. We are a people living in great darkness.

Not in a tomb…but in a womb.

We only know darkness. We cannot breathe and we do no understand, we are surrounded by a thick, wet fog. Then, light comes in. The water is released and we are born–brought forth into air and light. It is shocking and terrifying and we are naked, cold and exposed. But we are born. We are alive.

She spoke these words to me (much more eloquently, I must add–I wish you could have heard her say them) months ago. I am only now beginning to comprehend their full value. Darkness cannot comprehend or understand the light. But light dispels the darkness. Thanks be to Christ–the Light of the world.

Perhaps, I am not yet dead, not yet dying. We humans have often misunderstood living things to be dead. Ezekiel stood in the valley of bones and they cried out and became flesh. Jesus said if the children stopped singing the stones themselves would begin to sing. The Creator broke down a stone into dust and breathed into it–and it became a living being. A woman in labor pains cries in anguish. And out of the darkness a child comes forth.

I used to think Advent (or seasons of Advent in our life) was about the Church, the Body of Christ waiting for God to do something, waiting for God to come–as if we were the ones who was pregnant. As if it was by our doing that God should come. But maybe God is waiting on us, forming us, growing us. Maybe God is pregnant and is calling us out of darkness through God’s own womb. We are born into the family of God. And God has suffered through great labor pains for our sake.

Maybe we are not tombstones with names.

Maybe we are infants, tiny babes.

After labor pains and tears and blood; out of this chaos God gives us life. And we are instantly wrapped up and held God’s arms. And we are loved.

Maybe we are not left to decay in a tomb, but instead are being formed in the womb. Cared for and loved by a God who breathes light into our darkness.


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