…it was not land at all…It was a Darkness…utter blackness, as if they had come to the edge of a moonless and starless night.
“Do we go into this?” asked Caspian at length.
“Not by my advice,” said Drinian.
…all at once the clear voice of Reepicheep broke in upon the silence.
“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not.”
No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:
“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of royal and noble persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”
“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.
“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I read this tonight to Brady for bedtime. And it struck a chord. Give me five minutes with someone experiencing a Darkness in their life, and you’ll no doubt here me talk about leaning into it, or — to use the same imagery — about rowing steadily straight towards it.
I have never known a darker time in my life than when Stephanie died, but I was not willing to pretend I didn’t feel what I was feeling. And I give a lot of credit to that attitude for being where I am today. And, I give credit to God for giving me the strength to have that attitude. (In other words, don’t give me any of the credit.)
Here’s why I think it works. When you are able to accept that it is a horrible situation and you’re able to accept that you’re just going to feel miserable at times, you start to accept that maybe there is more to it than just pain. There’s learning. And there’s growing. When you are in that moonless and starless night, you start to see things clearly that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. You find out who you are. You find out what you believe. You find out how deeply you can feel. And you find out how much others love you.
And from that point on, all it takes is a candle for you to feel like the whole entire world has been lit up as the sun. It’s a bright and beautiful day simply to have a flickering flame in the deepest dark.
It’s a lesson I’m still learning. One day last week, I was encouraging a friend to accept the feelings inside and express those feelings to God. Not even a full day later, I was struggling with my own feelings and forgetting what I had said the day before. Thankfully, my counselor encouraged me to lean in. Strangely enough, I still didn’t make the connection until that same friend pointed it out to me, showing me that it’s exactly what I was saying just one day prior.
Stress, loneliness, anger, pain, frustration, disappointment. None of these feelings are strangers to me. Instead of thinking they’ve come to the wrong house, what if I invite them in and hang out with them for a while until I get to the deeper reasons for why they rang my bell? Will I cry? Maybe. Will I complain? Probably. Will it be hard? Absolutely.
But I have set sail to seek honor and adventure. And if I turn back, I impeach all of my honor. And I miss a great adventure.