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"Crossing the Darklands" © Michael Gambino

Since my last post in August, I feel I have been run off the rails, metaphorically speaking. I have been reassessing my life, my hopes, and my dreams, trying to get my wheels back on track since September when, among other things going on in my life, my father died.

Grieving is a uniquely personal process, and it twists and turns us around in a very disorienting manner at times. Days are up and down, and the past and the future are looking at each other. Hurricane Irene, a tropical storm, and a snowy nor’easter for Halloween all added an element of destruction, change, and chaos to accent the disruption of my inner and outer worlds. I know this type of energy. It has been at work in my life before. The Native Americans might refer to it as the “Powers of the Four Directions” who’s task is to turn us this way and that in the course of our lives when we need to transition in some way. The spirit beings that dwell in each of the four corners of the world do this, it is said, to assist us in fulfilling our highest purpose and to help us get unstuck by steering and guiding us. They show us when we are on our path, and also when we are getting bogged down or side-tracked. That all sounds more pleasant than it usually feels when this energy arrives.

Traversing dark landscapes of the soul, one has to pay attention to where each step will land, lest one stumble and fall into an open pit or quagmire and become stuck. Since the only way out is through, we have to keep moving in order to emerge into sunshine and green landscapes once again.

I am still hiking out from whatever gloomy country I’ve been wandering in over the last few months, but the path ahead is lightening up just a bit. I have paid attention to traversing the landscape, (and not writing blog posts) so you have not heard from me in a while. However, I thought I would risk posting four vignettes of writing from this journey so far. After all, this too is part of my “adventures in an ordinary life”, as the tag line of this website states.


Slumped on a darkened stage there lies a slack-stringed marionette. He is motionless, yet behind his painted eyes he still dances and cavorts with grand style and gesture, entertaining one and all, taking great pride in his abilities, and bowing deeply to the audience as they applaud. In stillness he dreams his puppet dream, as ghostly stage-hands move about him, silently clearing the set piece by piece in preparation for something new.

In time, the marionette awakens from his reverie, and though he cannot move, he stares into the gloom before him at the empty stage – empty, save for a single object bathed in an ethereal light. It is a worn and dog-eared manuscript of the play he performs (when he is animated by the grace of that mysterious force from above). He tries to read his lines and see his cues, but they shimmer and fade away one by one, as page after page is turned by some invisible hand.

With such uncertainty, there is nothing he can do but wait. Wait for direction, wait for a new story to tell, all the while longing deeply for that mystery to which he is tethered to lift him up once again and reaffirm his purpose for being.


Blustery autumn winds strip the leaves from the trees, preparing them for winter’s cold, deep sleep. In similar fashion I too am scoured – stripped of old illusions and fading dreams – left with a familiar emptiness. Bare trees, I remind myself, hold the promise of renewal, of a far-off springtime. Nature always keeps her promises, and in this I have faith enough to see me through this difficult interlude. Such periods in life are perhaps a necessary discomfort whereby the dull, worn, and weary layers of the spirit can fall away to reveal a brighter light and revitalized dreams. The trick is to embrace all the seasons of life (as in nature) as beautiful and equally important.


Our time together on this earth was filled with more silence and separation than conversation and gathering. There was conflict and there was healing; and scars, and strengthening of spirit. Our early years were difficult for me, with many tears, doubts, and fears. Decades later, rising from the ashes of the past there grew the soft green shoots of compassion, forgiveness, and completion.

Sometimes we shared laughter and perhaps a hug, and I found goodness there in our later years. I found out what we had in common, and I liked that – no matter how small it seemed. In the end we had this as a victory, my father and I, before he finally left this world for parts unknown. In these things I see a deeper truth: no anger or hurt can stand long, once a person arrives at the place where love presides over all. However long it may take to reach those gleaming-white shores, it is always worth the journey, if only for one’s self. 


Along a dark road I walk, enveloped by pockets of cool mist as I explore the wisdom and folly of my past. Sifting through the sands of time, I smile a bit – remembering moments of innocence, as I retrieve tiny nuggets of gold that I have earned over the last half-century of finding my way through life. Nearly all of them seem to have come from periods surrounding a transition, when I am challenged to look with fresh eyes on the circumstances of my life and who I truly am. It seems I am once again at such a moment.

Above me, above the trees and hills glows the soft light of dawn, gently washing away the trailing edge of night. At the same moment, far to the east of my daybreak, the sun sinks below the rim of the world, drawing the great blanket of night behind it as it goes. There, some may look forward to an evening meal, cozy pajamas, a warm fire, or at last, some peace and quiet. Others may not have much to look forward to at all.  So much is happening in the world simultaneously: Dreams are born, dreams die, and dreams are brought into being. For some, passions of youth rise now in great leaping flames, and for others, passions are growing cold and fading with each passing year.

The first bird song breaks the long silence of night, marking the moment between night and day. Thus, I am brought back from wandering the corridors of the past to be bathed in this sacred light of resurrection. Once again, the power and simplicity of nature has triumphed! Renewed is my faith in myself and trust in my divinely-guided path. I am grateful to be a part of this earth for another day.

Reader Comments (3)

Your writings take my breath away. I am in awe of how much wisdom and insight you pack into so few words. If only we could all speak so little with such meaning. Thank you!

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

Such a beautiful article, it seems even more poignant as we hear of these terrible budget cuts to our beloved park programs. I have faith that you will weather the storms of these transitions and look forward to hearing about the next steps on your path.. Keep the faith, follow the light.. Blessings to you

November 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Beautiful, poignant and motivating. Thank you.

November 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Boyka Kluge

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