Pilgrimpace's Blog

mining the treasures of darkness
October 4, 2010, 3:24 pm
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I’ve been mulling over The Solitary Walker’s thoughtful comment on my Hints and Glimpses post a couple of days ago.  Rather than answering it directly, I want to share some oblique thoughts it has sparked off.  I hope they make some sort of sense.

I suppose for myself – and people vary a lot on this – there have been moments of overwhelming clarity, when the veil has been lifted.  I could not do without them, I am not strong enough, but much of the time, most of the time, it has been hints and glimpses.

A phrase that has been important to me comes from the Book of Isaiah:

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places (Isaiah 45:3).

This has led me to think a lot about the hard times, the appalling difficult things so many of us go through, or the times when we cannot see at all, when there are not even hints or glimpses.  My first impulse is to turn away, to want all to be well, but the real thing, the right thing, is to embrace it, to enter in, to mine the treasures of the darkness.

In terms of the Camino in Spain, the first hard week of illness and settling, followed by the long hard solitary days through La Mancha were the times of hardness and darkness.  Yet I would not swap this time for anything; and of course the stripped back starkness of the Camino can illuminate so many other passages in the Pilgrimage that is our life.  These times are difficult, but the difficulty allows us to discover who we are, who we meant to be.

RS Thomas alludes to this in my favourite poem:


Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
………………………Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.



2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for these considered and illuminating thoughts. They come as a great gift and consolation for me this morning. I’m copying out that line from Isaiah at once. And that’s a wonderful poem. ‘Waiting for the God to speak’ reminds me strongly of Simone Weil’s theology.

Comment by solitary walker

Thanks Robert for pressing me to reflect more deeply,


Comment by pilgrimpace

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