Where I Have Been

Darkness    In darkness and in light we are made.

But first, there was darkness before the wind of God’s spirit brought light. And each night, we are reminded that darkness is as much a part of life as is the light of our daytime lives. We receive equal doses of both.

So, I have been in darkness these past 12 months since my last posting: a period of gestation, of soul-searching, of existential wrestling with unseen angels. There has been light too; but in my soon to be sixty-second year, I am learning to treat darkness with more respect, and at times, I can even befriend the dark.

As children, we loved a “camp-out” under the stars. Just a few yards beyond our own backyard, we took our sleeping bags and flashlights, our comic books and playing cards, and loved the night. We loved the stars above and the stories we read in the night sky, it’s images and characters imagined as real, and the games we played in the night. With darkness, we felt a sense of freedom, a taste of trust in the natural world, and a certain camaraderie with our childhood buddies and friends.

When darkness comes unbidden — through some present suffering, or illness, or of simply feeling lost in the middle of our forward progress — it’s not such a chummy sensation. It may feel more like shame or guilt or disorientation. We want a way out, but feel stymied. Much like the time when I considered the possibility of divorce: I could not find a way up and out towards the light, so I decided the only logical alternative was the way down, deeper into the darkness. And that was how I found hope.

We are fascinated with darkness, and we fear it too. In Jung’s way of thinking, darkness is archetypal. Darkness is a spiritual reality that manifests throughout our lives in nature, in our relationships, and in our souls. Our efforts to get rid of our personal times of darkness usually result in making things worse. But if we get the hang of it — lighting a candle in the dark, inviting a trusted friend, or just waiting for the lesson our souls need — the darkness gives us gifts we otherwise would miss and be the poorer for missing such blessed offerings.

I have a new office, a new stage in my career as a therapist of soul, a new community, and a new home I share with my wife, Sarah, and dog, Theo. It’s a very good thing. Without the darkness, however, I never would have known what my soul was drawing me towards.


All is darkness
And distant drumming,
Walking along slowly
With shadows only as guides.
How is it that I am here?
Where am I going?
How can a dark road feel so much like –

Dark faces move
Do they mean me harm?
Are they really parts of me?
Or am I actually their creation?
From somewhere I feel a dare:
Join hands with these Others.
Jesus! These least of these?
Couldn’t I, instead, just run?

Come now.
We can do this.
In larger numbers we’ll go.
The drumming growing louder.
And Dancing!
And singing –
See it now!

A wrong road made
By love and grace
And risk.
We howl our tender mercies
As we claim their new light.
Roads that seemed right go
When we forget to celebrate faces in the

by John B. Rowe

3 thoughts on “Where I Have Been

  1. Tom Steagald says:

    Hey, John. Thanks for sharing the journey with us, this slice of it. Hope we are able to walk together a bit. –Tom


  2. Love this post, John….


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