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Night

It was north along the lake’s edge I most liked to walk. There, the path
wound, climbing to an embankment. There, I could stop and look back
and see the wharves of the harbours. See the ships with their sails
unfurled. Some would be out on the lake’s surface, heading for Chriniu’s
farther shore. Some would be entering the harbours, having sailed from
other cities. There was elegance and reassurance in the endless arrival
and departure of ships.

Sail and sun drive the ships of Chriniu. They are equipped to harness
the power of our star. They use this power to drive them forward if the
wind is low. Yet when weather permits they unfurl their sails. There is
skill and knowing in working with the wind: in ascertaining the moods of
the lake’s waters.

Along that pathway I could see the rail lines. They run to the cities
inland. Cities domed, as our city, Eratreün, is. The trains glide north or
west, moving quickly and silently away. And behind the lines are the
rising hills, dark and forested and so often sun-lit.

I walked this autumn day. In the ninth month; the month we call the
month of the Red Star. The weather has grown colder. The leaves on the
trees, those that are not year-round, have turned. Everywhere there is
yellow, brown and copper. Sometimes one sees something of surpassing
beauty. Such as in a grove of russet leaves, one small dark leafed tree
with fine maroon-coloured leaves. Shimmering like dark flame within
bright flame. Or making one think of a wine and the warmth it leaves
after the evening meal.

On this day I walked for I had much to contemplate. It seemed dark


clouds hung over me. Some inner dissolution was at work. Familiar
things were losing their familiarity. The easy world I had always known
was falling away. And in place of it came a strange and sometimes dark
existence.

As always I sought the advice of a wise-one. In fact it was then I first


came to know Sanya. If before I went to the wise-ones, as many of
Eratreün do, when there was some small need, this time I felt it was not
an arbitrary asking. I was looking for something deeper. Not that I was
embarking on a voyage, but that I had already embarked and perhaps
needed to hear from one who had made a similar journey.
Despite the cool air, Sanya sat before his star-chamber. A woollen
robe was placed on shoulders. On his head he had placed a tight fitting
hat. He looked at me as though he already knew me. His eyes clam and
clear.
“Sit”, he said.
So I did. Squatting before him in the manner of all seekers.
“You have come to know where you are.”
I was surprised. Though this was not how I would have phrased my
question, there was truth in his observation. I could be on a voyage and
in a place. They were not contradictory.
“Wise-one,’ I replied, “I have come because if I am in a place it is a
strange place. I feel myself to be making a journey. Yet the way forward
is unclear. I fear I simply go deeper into darkness.”
He looked at me placidly.
“Often we feel we go deeper into darkness when journeying to light. It
is essential to understand darkness is part of the journey to light.”
I was puzzled and said so.
“How can darkness be part of a striving for light,” I asked. “How can
one go from that one desires? Is that not to travel in the wrong
direction?”
He smiled knowingly.
“What is darkness but the absence of light,” he answered. “What is
light but the uncovering of darkness? Are they not one and the same?”
I said nothing. I heard the cool autumn breeze in the trees.
“If what you say is true,” I continued, “that I must move through
darkness to reach light, is there not danger I shall become tangled and
lost in darkness?”
He closed his eyes. One of the great birds of the forest circled. Then he
added.
“Darkness and light are but states of being. There is light and there
are the places that have not yet come forward to light.”
I pressed him to explain.
“Let me explain it this way,” he replied. “When you struggle with
darkness and light it is a struggle within you. Sometimes that struggle is
reflected in the world about you. Yet it is in the forgotten places of your
self you struggle with: the darker desires and instincts. They are not
dark in themselves. Only there is a strange pride within that desires the
light too ardently. And unbalances the self into a polarity of light and
dark. This reality is as the play of night and day. Night is also a time of
beauty. It is, as light falls, that lovers look for one another. It is when the
moon whispers to dreams that lovers open their hearts. Look for yourself
in the moon on the water, or over the trees of the forest. Only when we
have stared at the sun too long does night throw long shadows. And we
see the darkness of our own minds.
“We must go into the our darkness. Healing, the journey to light is
about enquiring. It is asking the night what our darkness is. Asking the
night to name all aspects of our darkness.”
I contemplated this.
“Yet this requires patience. And pain. For it means turning our back
on the sun, on light.
Sanya nodded his head.
“It means turning to the night and seeing your own darkness.”
“And if I were not to pursue this path,” I asked.
“It is not a question of pursuing or not pursuing. It is where you are
on your journey. If you dig for treasure you do not expect to dig in
shallow ground?”
I agreed: my heart somewhat heavy.

The sun was going down behind the forest when I made my way back
to the city. Its light was deep. As though the light of day had become fire
and was dispersing through the heavy branches and the darkened green
of the year-rounds.
I heard my steps on the forest path. I was aware they kicked up dust
and snapped twigs. And I searched my heart for courage.

Copyright © Peter Millington 2006

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