I think we all walk through dark times in our life; when the path ahead is dark and foreboding, despair nipping at our heels. It’s easy to lose hope when there seems to be no clear way ahead. But, as the well-known proverb states, the darkest hour is just before dawn.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
I pondered the darker times of life as I painted this night-cloaked hare. Perhaps my thoughts were fed by the approach of Christmas – a season that celebrates light overcoming darkness. Yet it’s a time that is particularly difficult for many, with saccharine-soaked media making a mockery of the loneliness that is the reality for many people.
Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?
Bill Watterson (The Essential Calvin and Hobbes)
We of course all look for ways to keep the darkness at bay, or at least push it to the periphery of our consciousness. But even the gentle warmth of candles and fairy lights of this most illuminated and sparkly of seasons will not lift a burdened soul from darkness.
There is a season for everything under the sun—even when we can’t see the sun.
Perhaps it is better to let our souls endure the darkness without trying to mask it with entertainment, food, drink or whatever our own favoured method of escape happens to be. To walk through the ‘dark night of the soul’, listening and learning – instead of trying to bury our pain, letting it speak its truth to us. For it will find its way out one way or another, most often in destructive ways if we choose to ignore it.
It’s good to switch off the false lights and wait for truth to come, even though the process can feel torturous. But it’s in this process of dying to the false that we find our freedom, if we will only yield to it. And the dark night will come to an end, the dawn will break and hope will be renewed.
This is the mystical experience of the “dark night of the soul,” when old convictions and conformities dissolve into nothingness and we are called to stand naked to the terror of the unknown. We must let the process move through us—one which is much greater than we can comprehend. We can never force our way back to the light. It is only in this place of absolute surrender that the new possibility can emerge. We don’t just have one dark night in our lives, but again and again, as we are called to continue releasing the images we cling to so tightly.
Christine Valters Painter
About the Artwork…
My thoughts usually run deep rather than wide as I paint, tending to fixate on a particular notion, wondering or experience. I doubt that I will ever be an artist that enjoys revealing their inner workings and processes because, despite a love of writing, I find it difficult to put into words the deeper thoughts and – more particularly – feelings that prompt individual creations.
Even so, I believe in the importance of sharing these things, even if they may not make any sense or resonate in any way with others.
And so it was with this hare, shrouded in shadow – a metaphor for darker times and long nights, waiting for the dawn to break…
Prints of Before the Dawn are available from The Honeybee and the Hare Etsy Shop
In other news…
I will be at The Winter Gardens Christmas Fayre here on the Isle of Bute on Saturday 17th December selling my wares in the form of prints, cards and perhaps a few bespoke pieces between 11am and 4pm.
If you are in the area do pop in and say hello…