Monday, 26 December 2016

On Darkness

Day 27 (Tuesday 27th December 2016)

27 - the number of studio albums released by David Bowie.
From 1967 to 2016 David Bowie was recognised as being at the 
vanguard of contemporary culture, not just for being an outstanding 
innovative musician but also as an artist, actor and designer. Bowie died 
on January 10 2016, after an 18 month battle with liver cancer. 
He released his last album, Black Star, on his 69th Birthday, 
it was released on 8 January 2016 ( 2 days before his death).
It is the extra Boxing Day holiday for many of us. I hope you are finding time to relax, recuperate and spend time with the people you love. I love the lady who has written today's post - Julie Drybrough. She is the founder and Managing Director of Fuchsia Blue Ltd. and is a woman of many talents - an organisational consultant, executive coach, facilitator, speaker, blogger (fuchsia blue blogand dialogue guide - working with people and organisations to improve conversations, relationships and learning. She inspires people to follow her example and to do things with love.

I first met Julie via Twitter (her handle is @fuchsia_blue) and have subsequently grown to know her in real life. She is a feisty Scottish lass who has moved south to Manchester to live with the man she loves, although she can be found working both across the UK and around the globe. Another major love in her life is, Biba, the dog. She says it how she sees it, is creative, thoughtful, caring and great fun. She enjoys life to the full (be it literally climbing every mountain, photographing and sharing amazing vistas and unusual sights, partying with friends and trying what's available to expand her knowledge and experiences). Julie enhances the lives of many and it is a pleasure hosting her post today.


On Darkness…..


What can I say?

In a year where all hell seems to have broken loose in the world, politically, socially, climatically and to be famous seemed to mean that Death had your name firmly in its sights, somehow personal reflections and seem inconsequential and unimportant.

And yet it is always at this time of year, in the darkest months at the point of solstice, that I most seem to need to stop, reflect, readjust, celebrate & consider. There can be peace in the gloom and the murk – a place to hide and be concealed and be… and it can be a scary place – darkness – a lonely place filled with terrors both imagined and real.

If I dwell on heart and heights and hopes – it is at this time of the year I seem to most acutely feel and acknowledge these.

I'm mostly irreligious... yet spiritual in my own way. If I err toward anything at this time of year is a sort of pseudo Pagany/Christiany sense of beginning and the need to appreciate that which is alive. I want to be moved by the tradition of carol singing. I want to feast and dance. I want to walk the dog in the bitter cold in barren woods near me and enjoy the green of holly against the brown sleeping ground. I want the warmth of the house to be welcoming after the cold outside. I want to understand my privilege at having a home, family, safety and not take that wholly for granted….

December in the northern hemisphere speaks to me of winter proper.

Things asleep yet to wake.

Long nights, which inevitably turn slowly toward the spring… turning points.

The dark banished with lights & fires as we strive to see and make beauty in the darkness.
The hope of light and the relief it brings.

Yule has its roots in the old-Nordic word ‘iul’ or the Anglo-Saxon ‘hweol’,
both meaning ‘wheel’, which points to the ever turning year
and natures cycle of life, death and rebirth.Add caption
The dark gap where loved ones, now gone, should be; the way those we love & care for lighten our lives.

I learned a few years ago how scared I was of the dark and how terrifying it is to be without a sense of light; the experience of profound loneliness and the way it hobbles and derails you… I tried, unsuccessfully, to run away from the dark, forcing positivity and trying to conjure light. But I was diminished and sad. I was afraid and alone. My capacity to create light for myself was tiny. 

Dale Grimshaw - street art, UK
My ability to fool myself was even smaller. It was only when I turned to others, asking for help to illuminate and when I began to face into the darkness - looked into my sadness and shame and fear, that things started to re-form.

So at this time of year – if you feel the melancholy or the loneliness or the sadness…. Just know that these are one part of the story – that even in the darkest moments there is the possibility of light. That you may need others to light your way, scary as that is… that it is only knowing the dark that allows us to appreciate the light.

I wish you and yours the very best for the season and for 2017 whether it be dark or light… and I pass on a gift that sticks with me at this time of year – David Whyte’s Sweet Darkness – in the hope you find some semblance of inspiration or understanding in the verse.

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark 
where the night has eyes
to recognise its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your home
tonight.The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

John Atkinson Grimshaw, oil painting UK, circa 1880


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. A new podcast this year has been Jocko Willink's Jocko Podcast. Jocko is a former Navy SEAL who is now working as a business consultant. He has talked powerfully and memorably on evil and darkness on the back of his military service in hellish warzones.

    In a recent episode (video) of his podcast, he discussed the taboo subject of darkness and suicide with Tim Ferriss (whose podcasts recently reached the 100 million download milestone). This is the first subject covered in this episode.

    For me, as a Christian, the light is greater than the darkness. The poem "Rob's God", written by Gerard Kelly as part of a eulogy for an actor/poet who died of cancer, is a great example of this. That poem and others can be found in "Spoken Worship: Living Words for Personal and Public Prayer". Lots of great content also for poets and writers.

    I recommend Jocko's podcast highly. It has brought me a whole stack of new perspective over 2016 and was recently listed by Apple as one of the 12 Best Podcasts of 2016; "Leadership, fitness, military history — retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson."

    1. Please note that the above post should have had links, please see the following:
      For Jocko Willink's Podcast:
      For the video of the podcast:
      The 100 million download milestone:
      For Rob's God:
      For "Spoken Worship for Personal and Public Prayer":
      and for the 12 best podcasts:

    2. Kate, thanks for taking the time to expand my links out. I should have left my 1st comment with the links listed explicitly as-was. This must be a Blogger/template "feature"...