My life has been cast into darkness. Even in the daylight, I come home to darkness; to a hallway that is permanently cloaked in gloom. But the time for change is coming. A glow, an illumination, a light of hope will soon burn there, for I am turning this ship around. I will sail myself to a safe harbour, navigate by the lighthouse, steer around the rocks and set course towards the light on land.
It happened one day last November. All was well, then suddenly it fell. The tipping point — the dropping point. A sudden, alarming, dramatic crash, bang, thud. I had thought I was the only one home, but the wallop made me question myself: could there be an intruder? I ventured out from my sitting room where I’d had my computer balanced on my knee, where I had been breathing softly, where I had been thinking deeply. In an instant, my reverie was shattered: the deeper the rest the more painful the interruption. Fashioned after one of those old industrial lamps, the huge metal light fitting had plummeted from my hall ceiling as if cut by the knife of an invisible impish fiend. Substantial lumps of plaster had fallen with it. It felt as though it had collapsed onto my heart which was pumping at five times the usual speed.
My eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness. At first, I could see little under the poor afternoon light that bled dimly into the hallway from the sitting room, but, as my sight adjusted, I could make out the shade, broken into its component parts, lying scattered like roadkill. A piece of it had scraped the wall as it fell; to me the scrape was a splattering of blood. I picked my way around it and stepped through to the kitchen to stare at the ceiling there, perhaps it had been an upside-down earthquake and more was to come. What if I had been standing in the hall at the time? What if my indoor sky had fallen on my head? Was this a sign? Could this be a symbol for the year imploding? Did this presage the end?
For two days, I left it there, stepping around my crime scene, picking out the shapes in the darkness. Then, reverently, I lifted the remains piece by piece and laid each heavy portion in the box room. How long had it been threatening to fall? (Image of a mountaineer hanging on by his hands, then his fingers, then his nails, came to mind.)
I could tell you that not having a new fitting reinstated has been a proactive response, that it has been my way of accepting this mini catastrophe and transforming it into an allegory to live by for a little while. Perhaps, subconsciously, that is what I had been doing. After all, there are mystics from every tradition who have spoken about the rooms of the mind; each room representing a different aspect of ourselves. Some are dark and some are light. Some are locked and what’s put in the locked room is long forgotten. Some are shared, and some are yours alone to enter with a huge notice on the door saying, Stay Out! Perhaps my hallway has become the literal dark place in my house which matches the figurative dark place in my mind, hence my reticence to have it repaired. Whatever my reasoning, this much I know: these last few months have been the months of dwelling in darkness, retreating, enfolding, burrowing down. When I look up, an open wound hangs from my ceiling. The wires are sinew, the shards of plaster are broken bone, the scraped paint is torn flesh.
Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, is on its way; it lands on February 1st, the halfway point along the darkest part of the year. It is mid-way between the winter solstice (22nd December) and the Spring equinox (21st March). Imbolc is one of the high points of the ancient Celtic calendar, a time of change, a shift, progression. Some still mark it by lighting candles and fires on that date: a representation of the return of warmth; of the increasing power of the sun as it rises noticeably higher in the sky, day on day thereafter. So, this is the date that I will make moves to have my hall light reinstated. It will be a new fitting. It will be a new shade. It will mark a new beginning. It will be the inauguration of light. It will begin the slow, long turning of a corner towards spring and a better, brighter, light-filled, hopeful time ahead.