Tunes for a Monday Morning
The art of vulnerability

Darkness and light

Paige Bradley

From Linda Hogan's painful, honest, beautiful memoir, The Woman Who Watches Over the World:

"To open our eyes, to see with our inner fire and light, is what saves us. Even if it makes us vulnerable. Opening the eyes is the job of storytellers, witnesses, and the keepers of accounts. The stories we know and tell are reservoirs of light and fire that brighten and illuminate the darkness of human night, the unseen. They throw down a certain slant of light across the floor each morning, and they throw down also its shadow."

Rune Guneriussen

Rune Guneriussen

"As time has passed, things in me have been burned away and I see my life more clearly, more cleanly, than I had ever seen it before. And in that vision of my past, my history, my body, I also saw that there was something inside me that had survived and not merely survived but had done so whole and nearly intact. The hurt child raises itself and doesn't just walk but swims and flies. This child sees that life may never be easy but may be beautiful...

"Fire, like pain, like love, is a power we do not know. Yet from the ashes of each, something will grow. No one knows if it will be something beautiful and strong. But in our lives it is sometimes the broken vessel, as writer Andre Dubus calls it, that spills the light."

Bruce Munro

Bruce Munro

''How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence," asks Barry Lopez, "when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse.

''There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.''

Bruce Munro

Bruce Munro

Pictures: "Expansion, New York City" by Paige Bradley (US), and light installations by Rune Guneriussen (Norway) and Bruce Munro (UK). All rights reserved by the artists.

Words: The passages above are from The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir by Linda Hogan (WW Norton, 2001) and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (Scribner's, 1986); all rights reserved by the authors. 

Further reading: "The beauty of brokeness," and  "The Jagged, Gilded Script of Scars'"by Alice Driver.



I am so strange. I am so many puzzled,
Which are not all fun, as putting together
Little bits of colored cardboard to shape
A beautiful painting, clouds, blue sky, castle.

Strange, when I was a motherless child,
Sudden, peeved and sad and suddenly,
Fat. I read stories of girls like me, but
They were always winsome and slim.

But I hid inside books, I was so many,
Princesses, orphans, (being half of one)
Years later watching Dark Shadows on TV,
I thought it had some of my life in it.

My children loves that show. We often
Said, "It must be the wind." which means
Something terrible is going to come. We
Pretend it is something to pass over.

It was in a time of freedom, I did not
Need to work at the hotel any more.
I did not feel old. I felt the darkness
Fading away. How could this be?

Something unfolded, and I have learned
Not to fear or worry, and I am not fat,
Anymore. I have lived with the shadows
And learned how to make them capes.

Witch capes, to fly over the trees,
To be kind and nearly all are kind to me,
In a rolled up rug, old fears and hates,
Will eventually unroll and become my ride.

Thank you so much, I love so many of the words here ''There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.' is my favourite though. It's only when I do my heart's work. When I put myself on the line that I begin to shine, even if doing so leaves me exposed to the world with all its good an woes.

Like John, I too especially loved Barry Lopez' line and the image of a being leaning into the light. In the picture captions, the final caption is giving me something to chew on as I sip my first cup of tea and open to this new morning.

Thanks again to you and this place Terri.

Phyllis, I just love those last two lines so much. <3

Thank you, again and always, for the wisdom and light you share here. I've been cranky lately, but this post reminds me to breathe deep and write.

Thank you, Edith. One more prompt, this darkness and light and the beautiful art,

As we move toward darkness of wintertime, I'm so happy to ponder the light, that is manifest within each of us, as well as to be found in unexpected places. Thank you for some great art and quotes of great ideas.

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi, "The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi"

I've always liked that... :-)

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