Thursday, 21 December 2017

Divine Darkness - Day 22

Day 22 (Friday 22nd December 2017)
22 pantomimes are still performed in the UK over the festive period (Aladdin, Ali
Baba and the Forty Thieves, Babes in the Wood, Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, Cinderella,
Dick Whittington and His cat, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little
Red Riding Hood, Mother Goose, Peter Pan, Puss in Boots, Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe,
St George and the Dragon, Sinbad, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs,
The Little Mermaid, The Wizard of Oz and Thumberlina). Pantomimes were, in Roman times,
a one-performer play, where an actor played multiple roles, using very expressive hands.
Over the years the art form picked up other traits, such as elements of Commedia dell'arte and
Harlequinade. But that is all "behind you." In modern times it has developed into a family-friendly
show combining elements of dance, song and music, slapstick, innuendo, topical references
and satire, cross-dressing, audience participation, and jokes. It has become a very British tradition, "oh yes it has..." (although there are regular festive performances in Canada, Jamaica, Australia and parts of the USA).
Today is my first day of "being on holiday", but, like for many of you, I know that the next few days will be manic. I drove to Somerset late last night to get Christmas ready for my mother and sister - it will be the first time that they have celebrated alone in the least five years. My sister Anna is amazing - having always been cared for (she has Asperger's), she now needs to be the carer, as our mother is suffering from dementia. Anna is game-on to try and cook a simple Christmas lunch for them - so long as I prepare the food and write clear instructions. Ah well, here goes...

Today's post is by an equally (probably even more) brave lady, Jayne Harrison, the amazing co-founder and leader of Peak Potential Consulting Ltd - a career development and coaching business based in the Midlands of the UK. Jayne is a strengths-based specialist. Many of you will remember Jayne's delightful post about Christmas cards and love in last year's series. However her piece in Henpicked about the value of coaching for those going through menopause is perhaps a better indication of her expertise as a coach and the reputation she has built with people enjoying successful careers in later life. Jayne is an accomplished public speaker. She does much to make the world a better place: she is a faculty member of the NHS East Midlands Leadership Academy, is an accredited feedback facilitator and is passionate about kindness and humanity at work. When not coaching or consulting, Jayne loves spending time with her husband and dogs, or enjoying knitting, reading and veganism. You can connect with her on Twitter, her handle is @JayneHarrison3.


What do the words darkness and dawn conjure up for you dear reader?  Which one are you more drawn to?  In what direction might your previous experiences now be leading you?  Could you experience those words differently? Create new worlds around those words?

 “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”  -  Mary Oliver

I’m a fan of the dark; I’ve always been somewhat of a night owl and my favourite time of year is winter, when the night envelopes our world by late afternoon.  

One of the best things in the world to me is snuggling in front of the fire on a cold frosty evening with my favourite human and soppy canines. As I’m writing this the light is changing, from a cloudy hue to a grey blue; it will be dark soon in our village.  A comforting darkness.

However, when I was little I used to be frightened of the dark. I would need the hallway light on to get to sleep; the door left ajar. I’d often wake in the middle of the night; or sleep walk down to where my parents were sitting. I had an affinity even then with traversing in the night time.  A restless, sleepless darkness.

Christmas lights. Burning Candles. Roasting chestnuts. 

Santa making his deliveries by the cloak of darkness; leaving precious gifts for our loved ones.  A giving darkness.

I’ve experienced a lot of darkness over the past few years. Some of it due to poor health (mine and loved ones), some of it due to loss so painful I wished for endless dark; and some of it of my own making.  A mournful darkness in my soul.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

We like absolutes, we humans. Good and evil, black and white, light and dark.  But nothing is ever that clear cut for me.  If we were to travel the spectrum between those places, what unexpected gems might we find?  By boxing things up into distinct, separates pieces, what are we denying for ourselves and others? 

Darkness exists for a reason. What if instead of driving out darkness, we seek to understand, cherish and accept it?  Polarisation leads to hatred, a lack of compassion and mistrust. 

There have been many times this year when the light of others has truly inspired me.  They have travelled through the dark and have emerged the better, kinder, more human somehow.  I can’t list all the charitable, humbling and heart-warming stories here, but I do want to share just one which is so wonderfully apt:-

It’s Twitter at its very, very best. It’s about connecting through darkness and finding the light.  Please read the thread.

Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) tweeted at 5:14 pm on Sat, Nov 11, 2017:

Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” ― Og Mandino

I have said before that to truly experience loss, you have to have something to lose in the first place.  To fully appreciate the dawn, I need the dark.

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