Darkness ~ by Chris Yeomans ~ part of the Darkness Series

This week, as part of our ‘Darkness’ series, Chris Yeomans writes a beautiful reflection on the experience of being  “a terrestrial, and part of this creation”.

I am not too keen on total darkness.  In strange houses, I often need to open the curtains when I go to sleep, to catch the faint light from the night sky.  Years ago, I suffered from bouts of claustrophobia, and darkness pressing against my eyeballs felt as if I was being smothered or suffocated.  I don’t think I’d do too well in one of those flotation tanks where you are supposed to experience weightlessness and some sort of total sensory deprivation.

Night Sky by Colin Lloyd
Night Sky by Colin Lloyd

I remember very clearly, one winter night, finding the bedroom and the house itself to be a prison.  I wanted to break out. To see.  So I got up and went out into the frosty garden, where there was the glimmer of stars, the faint glow of streetlights.  I looked up at the sky and, rather unhelpfully, panicked that I was trapped on planet Earth.  I couldn’t get off it.  I could only survive within the oxygen bubble that surrounds us.  I felt very much like a fish in a pond – trapped in water, unable to climb out and walk away.  It was bizarre but extraordinarily powerful.

The experience has stayed with me, but the claustrophobic intensity has gradually faded.  I remember talking to a monk about it, who seemed bemused: ‘That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it?’ After all, it is rather a weird thing and not easy to put into words to share.

Over many years though, I have come, I think, to a greater understanding.  This experience was actually the experience of being one with all things, not a separate being.  At the time it was frightening.  I wanted to scream and struggle and escape. I had no idea how or to where.

But gradually what I felt then has become a comfort:  a very clear awareness that I am a terrestrial, and part of this creation.  That I have no separate existence.  This is a concept that sometimes we struggle to understand, but over time I have been lucky enough to realise that what I felt that night was actually to experience it, to feel it in my blood and bones, rather than to intellectualise it. It was a gift.

4 Replies to “Darkness ~ by Chris Yeomans ~ part of the Darkness Series”

  1. I love this, Chris, and felt moved to comment because I can totally relate. Thanks for writing about it so clearly. I’m glad you’ve come to appreciate it too.
    1. Thank you Mia. I’m so glad. Sometimes I feel as if I might be out on a limb. Good to have company! _/\_

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