Spiritual Direction: Looking for Light in the Darkness

Spiritual Direction: Looking for Light in the Darkness November 5, 2021

Looking for Light in the Darkness

We are people living in a world of deep darkness who are looking for light.

Darkness is all around us, seeping into how we live our lives and see ourselves. Some of us fear darkness, refusing to see it or even acknowledge its presence. Darkness makes some of us feel tired and frustrated.

We want to stay in bed wrapped in blankets. Maybe the darkness will go away.

A few of us try to lash out against the darkness, but it silently absorbs all our efforts.

We do not remember where the darkness came from, when it started. It becomes harder and harder for us to recall what life was like before darkness arrived. When we try to work or play hazardous obstacles hidden in the darkness block our way.

We do not know what to do about the darkness, or how we can live in it another day. Darkness drains our energy and destroys our hope. Some of us fight to bring an end to darkness. People try to create new ways to overcome the power of darkness. Others have decided to sit and wait to find out what will happen. None of us really knows what to do to clear away the darkness.

Darkness around us hides more than just walls and obstacles. The darkness makes it harder for us to recognize each other, or recognize our own true selves. There are deep, essential truths about life and the world we cannot see because of the darkness all around us.

There are no technological or legal fixes to solve the problem of darkness. The only way we will overcome the darkness is when each of us opens our eyes and steps into the light.

Are we looking for light in the darkness?

Looking for Light Within Us

Some of us grasp tightly onto the knot at the end of our rope, almost at the end of our hope. Our hands, our fingers, are stiff and sore. Our arms shake from holding on so tightly for so long. Every fiber of who we believe we are is focused on not letting go.

Waiting, seemingly beyond hope, and desperately looking for light in the darkness.

We will probably not be able to hold on much longer. Not able to save ourselves. There is only one thing remaining within our power. As the rope that holds us safe is slipping from our fingers, we pray.

Ours is not a prayer of fancy words or complicated ideas. We do not pray as we think we should, we pray as we need to pray. We pray beyond words, with whimpering, with screams. Our prayer gives voice to the fears which terrorize us, the pain which puts us in agony. We pray as our grip fails and we feel ourselves falling.

As we pray and sob, and begin to fall, we begin to glimpse light in the darkness.

Our prayer appears to light a candle in the darkness, but it is only part of the truth. We have been paying so much attention to holding on we have ignored the light within us. Have we been concentrating so much effort on the darkness we have ignored the light?

We begin to see light in new ways. We recognize the light is welcoming us as much, or more, as we welcome it. The light of our candle glows around us.

We realize we are not falling, but soaring.

Looking for Light All Around Us

Many of us are afraid of darkness. We feel darkness growing darker and threatening to overwhelm us.

Some of us grow tired of searching for light in the darkness. We give up and close our eyes, making our own darkness even darker.

Looking for light in the darkness is not merely about scanning the horizon looking for distant stars. The light we hope to find is not only from pinpoints on the edge of what we can see. Our light in the darkness is also within us and the people around us.

It can be a challenge to see the light we carry around in ourselves. Some of us are so busy paying attention to the horizon we cannot see our own light. Darkness may overwhelm the light within us.

When I get tired it is easier for darkness to overwhelm me, easier to feel discouraged and frustrated. I can lose sight of light in the darkness and start to think there is no light there.

My ability to see light in the darkness can be affected by how tired I am.

It is almost as if I have forgotten what light looks like. I need to take time to catch my breath and remember what it is like to see light in the darkness. Ironically, closing my eyes can help me see light in the darkness.

Looking for Light Within Us

Our light in the darkness may not be the glimmer of a distant sun. Each of us becomes light in the darkness when we share the flame of one candle with the people around us.

We remember the experience of finding light in the darkness and how it makes us feel. As the memory takes shape within us we become our own light in the darkness.

Light dances within us and we share our light with the people around us. We appreciate again we have something to offer, something valuable to share. Darkness does not threaten to intimidate us as much.

Rather than desperately seeking light in the vast expanse of darkness we recognize there is light within us.

We grow in appreciation for how we are lit from within. Our light spreads to new parts of ourselves. We share the light we have found with other people. The light in the darkness grows.

Our lives become light in the darkness.

Where are we looking for light in the darkness today?

How can we continue looking for light in the darkness within ourselves this week?

[Image by eisencruz]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is and his email address is

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