Dancing in the Dark

Karen Richards

It is the shortest day of the year and I am sitting in my conservatory, looking out across my garden. The rain pounds against the roof; a deep, primaeval sound. We are set for more storms and floods in the west of Britain and yet across the world, down under, the Bush is ablaze.

I have the naive thought – if only Britain’s rain could put out Australia’s fires and short phrases of the Scripture of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisatva pop up in my mind – ‘the fiery pit’; ‘when rain in torrents pour’….

I become still and into my awareness comes the young couple who live next door. Only days ago they lost a baby; a much-longed-for child born dead. I lift my eyes across the yard, past the shed to their back door and silently transfer merit.

The news had shocked me to my core. ‘If there’s anything I can do’, I said and then anxious not to leave the words empty of meaning, took in parcels, put away their dustbin, offered to shop. I had knocked the door sheepishly, not wanting to intrude but the pale face that greeted me said ‘It’s s ***t’ and I nodded in agreement. We hugged in a swaying embrace on the doorstep and I joined her in her chant of expletives – a sort of song and dance of solidarity in sorrow.

‘Have coffee with me’, she said. So I did. I hoped it helped her. I know it helped me.

‘In all the world, in all the quarters, There is not a place where Kanzeon does not go’*

I’m still again. The garden is starting to take on its twilight shades and I notice, on the windowsill, a spare set of fairy lights, left over from my festive house decorating. It would be nice to put them up around the shed, I think. They will sway and twinkle in the long, wet and windy night ahead and I will remember, what the Ancients knew, that even in the stormiest of times, compassion is still dancing in the dark.

  • The Scripture of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisatva from The Liturgy of The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives

5 Replies to “Dancing in the Dark”

  1. Just shows you it’s good to reach out even when that very real sense of not wanting to intrude holds you back. Yep, and sometimes expletives can help ddissipate pain.
  2. Thank you for the reminder to reach out. So often we are held back by our feelings of reserve and not wanting to intrude yet more often than not that fellow being is desperate for some love and warmth – as we would be.
  3. Thank you, Rev. Mugo, Chris, Ayse and Charlie, for your really thoughtful feedback. When I used to teach media studies, in secondary school, I would tell the students that the person who ‘reads’ is just as much part of the creative process as the person who ‘writes’. I feel the blog piece is all the more meaningful for your comments. Thanks again, Karen

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