This Lent I have been reading "Gifts of the Dark Wood" by Eric Elnes and he has talked about those times when we are disillusioned, afraid, or lost, and explored how God’s presence remains with us, providing opportunities for new growth and transformation. We enter the Dark Wood because we struggle. All of us struggle. And in the Dark Wood it is possible to be moved and transformed. Elnes talks about Gifts of the Dark Wood: uncertainty, emptiness, being thunderstruck, getting lost and temptation. He talks about how uncertainty can help us let go of our fear of the unknown. Emptiness can leave room for new possibilities. Thunderstruck moments can offer insight. Getting lost invites us to heighten our awareness. Temptation can help us know our true path.
The final gift of the Dark Wood are other travelers on the journey who enrich our experience of life and love. It is those who have gone before or who are going with us. In the Dark Wood Elnes says, “walking alone is about as advisable as walking alone in a physical dark wood. It’s easy to get lost without the aid of companions… While we all walk our paths as individuals, the lone seeker is more likely to get lost or to give up than the one who travels in company” (150). People who travel with us in the Dark Wood are as intentional as we are about embracing the gifts of the Dark Wood and finding their place in this world (157). They are comfortable with the sadness of the Dark Wood and they share their own experiences and help us not be afraid.
It takes a village. It takes a village to raise children. It takes a village to remember that you are not alone. It takes a village to remind you that you can take one more step. It takes a village to show you that there is always someone who has been where you are, and has made it through.
A wise friend shared with me this past fall that if there was an event her child was going to, she always tried to find another parent to share the carpooling duties. She said that it helped her to share the joys of parenting with other people. It is very easy to try and do this thing called life alone. Community takes work. But it is so worth it.
And when someone asks to help us and we don't accept it, we are only hurting ourselves. Community is good.