Learning to Walk in the Dark

One of my most treasured books, Learning To Walk In The Dark is a series of essays by Barbara Brown Taylor about the revelations that come from confronting fear, loss, pain and suffering. Take the story of Jacques Lusseyran, a young Frenchman who at age seven became permanently blind. A little over a week later he discovered something  extraordinary. ‘I had completely lost the sight of my eyes; I could not see the light of the world anymore. Yet the light was still there,’ he says. He felt light gushing forth every moment. ‘It contradicted everything that those who have eyes believe,’ he writes. ‘The source of light is not in the outer world. We believe that it is, only because of a common delusion. The light dwells where life also dwells: within ourselves.’

Next came an even bigger surprise. He found he controlled the light inside with his emotions. Barbara Brown Taylor writes: ‘When he was sad or afraid, the light decreased at once. Sometimes it went out altogether, leaving him deeply and truly blind. When he was joyful and attentive, it returned as strong as ever. He learned very quickly that the best way to see the inner light and remain in its presence was to love.’

World War Two tested him again and brought more revelations. He joined the French Resistance at age 17 and two years later the Nazis  delivered him to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Nevertheless he soon realized that: ‘Hate worked against him, not only darkening his world but making it smaller as well. When he let himself become consumed with anger, he started running into things, slamming into walls, and tripping over furniture. When he called himself back to attention, the space both inside and outside of him opened up so that he found his way and moved with ease again. The most valuable thing he learned was that no-one could turn out the light inside him without his consent. Even when he lost track of it for a while, he knew where he could find it again.’

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