Give me your black wing, sadness

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I was drawn to pick up a book the other night, when sleep proved illusive and when I opened the book I found this beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda.

The Mournful Face of God

Sadness, 

I need your black wing.

So much honey in the topaz

each ray smiling in the wide fields

and all the abundant light about me,

all an electric whir in the high air.

And so give me your black wing,

sadness.

to have the sapphire extinguished

and to have the angled mesh

of rain

fall,

the weeping of the earth

Now I am missing the black light.

Give me your slow blood,

cold rain,

spread over me your fearful wing.

Into my care give back the key

of the closed door.

For a moment,

for a short lifetime,

remove my light and leave me

to  feel myself abandoned,

wretched,

trembling in the web of twilight,

receiving into my being

the quivering hands of the rain.

Commenting on this poem Cedrus N. Monte writes:

In the bitters of Neruda’s poem, we are reminded of a primordial longing for darker places, spaces where we can rightfully mourn, feel our sadness, our grief and despair; a place where we can let ourselves experience, without shame or guilt, the sense of abandonment, and wretchedness we encounter in the wake of our wounds, in the recognition of others’ wounds, in receiving the “weeping of the earth”.

We are reminded that the mournful face of God, the shrine of darkness, is a holy place, a place that makes us whole, and heals. True to the paradoxical nature of spiritual and conscious life, the wounds we bring to this shrine are both the suffering and the redemption. Through them, we are pierced and torn apart, but without them, we would not have the opportunity to forge a forgiving and compassionate response. We would not have the opportunity to make love conscious.

In the pilgrimage to the shrine of darkness, something is attempting to come into fuller consciousness. Through pilgrimage, the rites of mourning are asking to be lived, death is seeking to be fully embraced, as part of life, the dark sister, the Dark Feminine, is asking to be honoured.

It is not the wholesale eradication of suffering that we must heroically achieve, but the humble understanding that suffering is inseparable from life.

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How eloquently did he express the truths I was feeling inside my own heart.  At times in my life when sadness was all around me and when the way into mourning was blocked or denied so was the entry way into the necessary passage closed off which would have led to a dark place which was the place of a difficult regeneration so necessary to face and experience.

At just such a time the book which contained Monte’s essay was recommended to me by a wiser soul.  It seems at times in collective culture we don’t want to have to feel and accept the necessary passages of the Dark Feminine, of difficult and challenging emotions that are a necessary part of the darker side of the human experience. It seems to me that, at just such points (and I have experienced this myself) medication or some other pain killer is offered as a solution.  And yet, the taking of such a solution often bars the way towards the necessary passage whose purpose is to enlarge and deepen our consciousness as human beings, fully awake and alive to the reality of being human.

We need courage, heart, strength, resilience and the suspension of rationality and control as we stand suspended at the doorways of such places as these are the qualities which will sustain us on the journey across that wide abyss which leads to a new shore.  Sometimes we need permission to be in the dark, to shed the tears which are necessary; we need the psychic midwives that will encourage us and usher us across such passages not the killing voices of those who would deny their healing power.

Today I was speaking to a girlfriend in recovery who once a month goes through a painful surgical procedure to deal with a medical condition which is beyond cure.  “The nurses have come to know me”, she said.  “I always cry when they give me the needle”.  Her tears to me speak to the fact that as a sentient creature she is alive and awake to pain and bearing witness to it.  I have cried under painful needles and been there at the bedside of my mother and other elderly patients crying in pain as the nurses sought around for yet another vein.

Yesterday I was listening to a radio programme on Radio National about the healing power of tears.  An author was saying how tears flow at the end or release point of the experience of difficult experiences not only of sadness but also of frustration, loss, shock and betrayal. To deny ourselves such a release means that we cannot integrate the full truth and enormity of our experience.  I am always grateful for real honest heartfelt tears as they signal the watershed moment when pain and restriction which has gone on too long is finally giving way and releasing.  I trust my tears as a portal into my own soul.

I love Neruda’s poem for speaking of the need we have to be held by the black wing of sadness when such holding is appropriate.  It is a beautiful image to dream on.  To contemplate.  To celebrate.

 

23 thoughts on “Give me your black wing, sadness

  1. This a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing feelings, that I have often had, so articulately!! There are so many messages in our society telling us that we should be happy; that we should “get over it”; that we “should let it go”; that we “should put it behind us”. Like you, I believe that grief, sadness, frustration and hurt are part of life; that we need to express them, feel them, and have them acknowledged and affirmed, in order to heal and move on. Otherwise, we cannot feel the joy, contentment, satisfication and sense of accomplishment that life can offer. Thinking about you! Kim

    1. Thank you Kim…..this issue is deeply close to my heart. I feel a connection to you, have been reading a few of your blogs and the love the heartfelt way you express yourself too and share about your own life and journey. Bless you. Deborah

      1. Thank you Deborah….your kind feedback means much more than you may imagine. I have only read one of your posts but I loved it, and look forward to reading more in the future! Kim

  2. Wonderful post and reflection on Sadness. Can you tell me where this poem was published? I can’t find it in any of Neruda’s collections. Thanks

    1. This poem of Neruda’s I came across in a book The Moonlit Path : Reflections on the Divine Feminine on pages 22-23. The source given as a foot note is as an excerpt from : “To Sadness/II” in Fully Empowered, Alastair Reid trans (New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1967), p. 117. Used by kind permission.

      Hope this helps. Its a beautiful poem that spoke deeply to me.

  3. Appreciating the hard work you put into your website and detailed information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.|

  4. You write the truth. Sadly, it is not the way that much of the rest of the wirld thinks. Being dragged into the light when you crave the dark is a gut wrenching experience, for you are then forced to forego what you most need. To stem tears, too, is a horrible experience to have. Why should we NOT cry tears when we are in such brief and sometimes torment? The dark place is the most healing place of all. And, it is the place where seeds germinate. It is where we find trye gealing. Thankyou for this

    1. I reblogged this one specifically for you when we messaged last night. I totally agree with you its damaging not to be able to cry it really is, I know for myself what its done to me to criticised for it and Ive ended up having accidents because of it. Forcing emotions to stay inside the body is so damaging and toxic. Anyway there are a lot of older posts you may like but the way my blog is set up its hard to track them all, but I thought of this one after we connected yesterday and I am so glad this one resonated.

      1. Thanks so much. When I first went blind I got lost in a corridor at my church, and the sheer pain if going blind, having fought cancer and going through chemo, just got to me, and no one came to help me, and I felt so lost, and I started to cry. Someone came to me – someone who could have helped – and said “THIS won’t do you any good, will it!” They don’t like crying at my church, or any kind of emotion really. It’s a case of smile smile smile. Well I will not go that route. There is so much in what you wrote about the darkness. I see gems in it. Thankyou for responding

      2. Oh my that is absolutely horrific. So called religious people can be the worst because a lot of modern religion rejects the body and forgets the soul lives in it. It irks me and makes me so angry for you. I am so very sorry you had that experience, such lack of empathy. I am so sorry you must have felt even more alone. ❤ ❤ ❤

      3. Thankyou. I agree with you. It hurt at the time, but the hurt has gone now. I let it go in the end, though at the time I struggled with it. I still go to that church, but not for the people. I agree with you about religious people. I go for my soul because the words of the Mass help me. Although, I haven’t been for a while now, and prefer to meditate in silence on my own. I discovered St. John if the Cross and his writings about the Dark Night and recognised myself in it. I follow his path now

      4. It was steange because I wrote a LOT about the darkness, having gone through so much darkness. But it was about thenluminous darkness. About the darkness being wonderful. I gave it to a priest whom I knew and fespected, and he immediately said that this was amazing, and suggested that some of the Saints mightnhelp me in unpacking what I had written. I found St, John of the Cross imnediately, but also St. Gregory of Nyssa who wrote about the dazzling darkness. And it is true of course. The darkness is brilliant. I don’t know how I found your anlog, but as soon as I found it I realised you were on the same path. I know nothing much about the Dark Feminine though. Although I did research a lot of feminist spirituality when I did my Masters. That was a LONG time ago. Nice tonhave connected with you

      5. I learned about the Dark Feminine through a Jungian writer Marion Woodman. She did therapy with women struggling with eating disorders. I also listened to a great tape on the saints called Spiritual Madness by Carolyn Myss I the early 90s it was inspirational. There are some amazing souls out there who have suffered through the dark night and found its luminosity to be healing and redeeming.

      6. Thanjs for the info. I like Jung. He spoke about the Dark Sude of God. It is all interesting. Many thanks

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