When You Can’t See the Light for the Dark

blur unenhancedI ran across something interesting today as I was organizing hundreds of photos from a recent trip.

One photo (left) had come out as a big dark blur, as we were driving on the freeway. I had attempted to catch the first new sliver of moon I spotted dangling high in the sky like a diamond earring.

Upon editing my photos I almost deleted the blurred photo, but something made me keep it. The way the faint structure of trees contrasted with the blurry streak just spoke to me.

I’m not a “real” photographer (as in the kind that use real film), but I love capturing things through a lens. Lucky for me there’s an “enhance” button on my computer that lets me enhance pictures that are too dark, saving a sometimes lost picture by adding a little bit of light to it.

Just for fun I hit the “enhance” button on the blur picture. I didn’t expect much to change, but to my surprise the trees popped out sharply and the twilight sky became more obvious (right).

blur enhancedMaybe I’m imagining it, but I’d also swear I can now see a slight, but definite sliver of a moon in the left upper quadrant of the photo, around nine o’clock.

You can share your opinions in the comments, but I’m calling it the moon for now.

Upon finding this treasure I paused, knowing I’d just learned something but not sure what.

When a little light was added to what appeared to be a dark blur, I was able to see that I had, in fact, captured more than I thought I had in the moment.

I thought I had missed the moon. I thought I had caught a useless dark blur.

Because I couldn’t see through the darkness, I thought nothing was there.

When light was added to the darkness and I took some time to really examine the new photo, I was able to see the darkness held much more than I had imagined.

This often happens in our lives. The darkness and lack of light physically represented by Tuesday’s new moon seemed to coincide with my internal and external landscape in many ways.

It seemed like, try as I might, I couldn’t see clearly enough to navigate confidently. Internally I seemed to be fumbling around in the dark, bumping into things I thought I had put away long ago.

In the midst of the fumbling I paused. I stopped trying to find the light. I stopped trying to fight the darkness. I stopped comparing where I was to where I should be.

This didn’t turn on any light bulbs for me at the time, but it did allow me to sit by my own side and observe the internal workings of my being and the beauty of being in the midst of a dark blur.

As light and structure began to return, I could see more clearly what was hidden in the darkness: An internal landscape I am glad I did not dismiss, delete, or write off as nothing.

This was largely a lesson in Trust. Trusting the light will come when it’s time. Trusting the process of life. Trusting myself even when I have forgotten how to. Trusting the bigger picture I cannot see.

Wherever you are in your process, stay with it. Trust yourself. Trust your process. The light comes and goes. Sometimes it lights your way and sometimes it highlights your shadows. Even when you can’t see it, it’s always there:  The burning ember alive in your heart.

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