"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Working in the Dark

Friday morning. An hour or so before sunrise.  Cold dew clings to my toes. It's a work day, but I'm in my back yard, hanging sheets on the line. There's so little light, I'm working by feel. Square corner to square corner, pegged. Pillowcases snapped out, my fingers doing the dance of setting them against the line and attaching the pins, all without  conscious thought.

The forecast said rain for the weekend, and for the forseeable future. I need to have one last week sleeping surrounded by the scent of outdoors, on the soothing scratchiness of line dried sheets.

It takes less than ten minutes. Toby wandering just out of sight, happy to have company, not needing more than that. The air holding a distinct bite. I look up at one point, survey the sky. Big Dipper, summer companion since childhood, to the north. Orion, a winter constellation, to the south. I take a deep breath that tastes like mountain streams.

My task done, toes beginning to numb, I move slowly toward the house. I'm reluctant to let go of this feeling of connection, freedom, mystery. Reluctant to step back into this life I've accepted, but that I still don't see the purpose of. Not the larger one - the one that holds my dreams at its center.

Wishing to stay a while longer in this moist glittering darkness that seems to understand. Delaying the return to artificial light, soon to be the primary light available for months to come.

I send a prayer to a friend who died this week, and to her family. She'd lived a long and full life. Even so, it's too soon.

Summer fading into fall, the season of dying. Not death itself, which is winter. But the season of transition from one form of life to another. Days shorten. Nights lengthen. Sunlight visits from time to time as a reminder that it will always return. Darkness beckons, offering a place to heal, a safe protected nest for transformation.

On this morning, for maybe the first time, I release my longing for the light. Trust it will come to dry my sheets when I'm gone into the world . Trust it to return as summer in due time as I set out to explore what the darkness has to teach me. Orion will travel across the sky in the months to come, my companion for winter, my reminder that beauty and meaning exist even in the darkest of nights.


Barb said...

Such a sensory treat! I'll remember your last line, "beauty and meaning exist even in the darkest of nights" Hope you could rest and regroup this weekend, Deb.

Niki said...

I've never hung clothes on the line in the dark...I think I'd like it :)

DJan said...

This post is a sensory delight, every single word. You captured it, Deb. I am awestruck. I felt like I was there with you...

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb, Thank you for sharing both your light and your dark with us.

Today I'd like to share some lines from East Coker by T. S. Eliot. They seem apropos:

"I said to my soul, wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong
thing; wait without love--
For love would be love of the wrong
thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope
are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought for you are not
ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light
and the stillness the dancing."


Wanda said...

I so enjoy your writing...and the light of the sun. May your fall and winter bring you much joy and growth.

Wanda..... said...

The line...'Darkness beckons, offering a place to heal, a safe protected nest for transformation' would be my favorite. I think of winter that way, as a time to settle in, relax and refresh by cozy fires, to savor my moments, a more personal time for myself...to catch up on reading wonderful posts like this for one!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Very incredible to find that "beauty and meaning exist in the darkest of nights". Many people never find this truth.

PS I love the scent of the outdoors on bedding. I think nature's aroma is wonderful and reminds us that we're not separate from nature but an extension.


This was too beautiful for any word I might add.
Thank you.

Julia said...


That was just beautiful!

" Not death itself, which is winter." Is about how I feel about the approaching season of no light.

You are such a talented and gifted author. I love, love your posts.

Jessica Nelson said...

I really do love the darker evenings. There's something magical about them to me. btw, I adore your background!! Gorgeous.

Linda Hoye said...

Beautiful. As always.


Stacy said...

I love line dried sheet...mmm reminds me of home.

Sandi said...

Only you would hang clothes in the dark! And, only you are able to bring us along, and make us wish we had thought to do the same . . . and were able to see that "darkness beacons, offering a place to heal, a safe protected nest for transformation."

All to often I see darkness as dark and foreboding, not as a safe haven, at least when I am out in it. I cozy up to the darkness when I'm in the house, and it's snowing at night, and I watch the magic unfold. Unfortunately, that rarely happens! :)

As always, your words burrow inside my head, leading me down paths I wouldn't travel on my own.

Thank you, dear friend of mine, for your footsteps that lead me to trust.

Rita said...

I love your blog background!
You have that gift that brought us right out there to the clothesline with you. :)
I believe you will discover the purpose and that your dream is still right there at the center.
You seem to be in a transformation of your own this season.
It's good. It's all good. :):):)

kario said...

Those meditative acts that we can accomplish by rote, by feel, they are some of my favorites precisely because they allow us to sink in to our surroundings with such completeness.

I love that you are so accepting of each moment, whether you have ascertained its "purpose" or not. Thank you for continuing to share your wisdom.


yaya said...

Such a beautiful post. I'm traveling to work in the dark every morning now and not enjoying it much, but your post reminds me that there is beauty in the darkness...and hope in the sunrise. Thank you.

Linda Myers said...

I think I may set up a clothesline next spring for my sheets.

Linda Myers said...

I think I may set up a clothesline next spring for my sheets.

Linda Myers said...

I think I may set up a clothesline next spring for my sheets.

Anonymous said...

As always I can feel, touch and taste that early morning air Deb. Sometimes acceptance is the only way as we wait to see what life has planned for us. A life within a life that we nurture in the hope that some day we'll get to be part of that bigger picture again. Thank you.

tricia said...

You are such a blessing!

colbymarshall said...

I agree with DJan- "sensory delight" is such a great description for this. I just love reading your words, Deb. They are just always so beautiful and make me feel peaceful.

Katie Gates said...

Wonderful post, Deb. As quiet as the dark.

Sweet Lily said...


Anonymous said...

I love that hour or so before sunrise. The world is fresh and nothing is required of us other than to breathe in deeply and appreciate the quietness. The day and it's demands come soon enough.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"Reluctant to step back into this life I've accepted, but that I still don't see the purpose of."

I so get that - as well as much else you mention in your post. The methodical hanging of the sheets outside. The sweet reward when you climb into them at night. The prayers sent for friends who have lost.

The only time my mother hung sheet lines in the dark was when she washed them at 1am and put them up before 2am. Neighbors ladies always chided her for sleeping in. That morning, she awoke early to see their dismay that she had beaten them to the line. Imagine her delight.

Retired Knitter said...

What a beautifully written piece. I am relatively new to your blog. I am glad to have discovered you. I think I have much to learn from your postings.

Rubye Jack said...

Oh gosh, it would be so nice to have sheets fresh off the line. I don't mind the dark, especially the time just before dawn. It is a different world almost.

Laura said...

beautiful reflections on your morning/mourning ritual...transitions, a continuum.

Terri Tiffany said...

I've missed you and your wonderful descriptive words--loved the paragraph about hanging sheets. I hope all is well!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Darlin' this was just an exquisitely written post!!! In the dark of the night...I do believe it heightens the senses!!!

God bless ya and have a magnificent day!!! :o)

Gammary said...

Love your poetic prose... Just checking in here to make sure you know that I'm still reading and loving all the words you manage to put down in just the right order.

Mark Lyons said...

What a beautifully written piece. I could feel my toes getting cold with you.

I love you

graceonline said...

Lovely. Thank you.