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Blinded by Love

Updated: Jul 7

When I woke with acute pain in my eye and excruciating light sensitivity, I knew immediately what ailed me. I took myself back to bed, layered up with eye masks, castor oil to soothe the wound, tea tree oil to treat the infection and a big bottle of water to ensure hydration. A corneal ulcer is no joke. It hurt like hell! This is not recommended treatment, by the way, we all have to find our personal path through whatever medical advice or quackery is in vogue. However, I can strongly recommend the basics of rest, hydration and curiosity.

As I lay in the dark, I wondered to myself if there is anything that I don’t want to see. When I felt well enough to sit up, I met over Zoom with a friend skilled in the Emotional Freedom Technique. She helped me go into meditation to enquire further. I have always looked outside for validation but my recent experiences of love have proven this to be folly. One type of love, born of lust and fear left me feeling unseen and worthless, another, born of kindness and a desire to bear witness to the divine in me left me questioning whether the me-that-I-am as a person is fundamentally meaningless. The first is, I’ve accepted, not love, but the second is what I aspire to in love which is why it’s so troubling to look at what it evokes within me.

I also noted the body’s very particular sense of humour - I had been contemplating entering a week long dark retreat and lo, I’m being given a foretaste of it! A fug of flu and fever accompanied the eye pain so I doubted that I would find the ecstatic high that can accompany a darkness retreat, but I was directed to consider the benefits of darkness anew.

It is reported that when the body is deprived of light for an extended period, one begins to see light within. The pineal gland is responsible for all sorts of inner fireworks. I’ve been particularly fascinated by this interior world since coming across the story of how baby Krishna’s gaping mouth revealed the whole universe to his mother. I tend to think this is an invitation to all of us to go within rather than considering it the provenance solely of the divine.

Many who have tiptoed onto the shores of death, return with accounts of the dark void - velvety and welcoming rather than hostile and frightening. This dark void of eternity appeals to me. Over the week of bed bound darkness, I entertained the idea of dying and entering this inner darkness where the whole cosmos dwells.

My daughters were participating in the Fèis - the Gaelic festival that is our family’s personal favourite time of year. I was sorry I couldn’t join them. I noted that death takes us away from the people we love, curtails our plans and empties the future of meaning. I reflected how, in this instance of non-resistance, I felt ok about this. Now, if I had been given a terminal diagnosis, I might be busy depressing myself with stories of what I’m going to miss out on or frightening myself about how painful the end might be. Given the gravitas and finitude of death, there seems to be wisdom in practicing how it might feel divested of any fearful stories, when it can just be a mind game.

As I entered the darkness of my mind I wondered about the I that was making this journey. Weirdly, the body seemed superfluous to the experience, even though the experiment occurred within the biological framework of what I generally consider to be me. Could this be a clue to how much we are ourselves in death despite the body’s impending demise?

What has so bothered me about being told I am loved for the divine essence within me regardless of form and personality is that what I recognise to be me is rejected in favour of the mysterious something that animates every living thing. In the darkness, while the form is, at least temporarily, the crucible for this experience but also seemingly dispensable, the personality has less to shape itself around making my particularity less meaningful. So my love of crochet and beach combing and poetry are just ideas in the darkness. They have no substance. There’s no place for a cleverly executed fuschia painstakingly constructed using a C-shaped hook and a combination of mohair and silk yarns. The half finished bunting remains unfinished while I traverse the dark. My little sea potatoes currently filling the bath tub will soak for eternity… or at least until someone who comes after me decides to take on the task of cleaning them or consigns them to the garden.

Poetry has more lasting value in the dark. One of my favourites by Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow has application here,

Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.

As the darkness pressed in, I was reassured that this too is a gift. However, as the experience of the darkness took over, there was no need for prompts.

While my particular quirks have little meaning in the darkness, there is also, no Other - everything takes place within my mindscape. My children and friends are thoughts here in the dark. Is this how we come to an understanding of Oneness?

I don’t think that, because I am able to reach into the darkness to a place where my uniqueness, my loves, my family, and every thing I understand about my manifest life, amount to ideas, that they are nothing more than ideas as they play out in the present moment of my life. I have only the most diaphanous apprehension of this. Michael J Tamara says, ‘Those who see great meaning in their lives can change the whole community with a smile or a simple helping hand.’ It seems to me that it is the balance point between nihilism and self-aggrandisement where peace and power and purpose are found.

A corneal ulcer brought me the gift of darkness. The aphorism, ’blinded by love,’ captures something of this experience in ways I can’t fully express. The ego’s seeing gives way to something vast and incomprehensible when we are willing to surrender, in the dark, to the seeing of the soul.

If you’re curious about exploring end of life subjects, use my calendar link to book a free consultation with me. I am a certified End of Life Planning Facilitator and Grief Recovery Method Specialist and I would love to help you find peace after loss or create your own end of life plan.

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