• lauriebrooks45

The Dark Invitation

A friend gave me a copy of the poem below and it’s been like a light in the darkness over the last few months, something I read when I need some encouragement. Sometimes I wonder why all of this has happened to me, but this poem kind of soothes that ache, the need to know why, and helps me to accept what is instead of constantly fighting against it.


It’s about illness, but I think you could replace illness with any other difficult thing life throws at you, and it still would work. I hope it speaks to you wherever you’re at, just like it spoke to me.


A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness

by John O'Donohue


Now is the time of dark invitation

Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;

Abruptly your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened

A path through fields never questioned,

Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.

Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;

Before your eyes your future shrinks.


You lived absorbed in the day to day,

So continuous with everything around you,

That you could forget you were separate.

Now this dark companion has come between you,

Distances have opened in your eyes,

You feel that against your will

A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you

feel so isolated and lost.


When the reverberations of shock subside in you,

May grace come to restore you to balance.

May it shape a new space in your heart

To embrace this illness as a teacher

Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself

a courageous hospitality

Towards what is difficult,

painful and unknown.


May you use this illness

as a lantern to illuminate

The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light

Help you to release whatever has become false in you.

May you trust this light to clear a path

Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety

Until you feel a rising within you a tranquillity

profound enough to call the storm to stillness.


May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:

Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?

Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?

What quality of space it wants to create in you?

What you need to learn to become more fully yourself,

That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,

Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary

Which can bring this night-wound gradually

Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.


May you be granted the courage and vision

To work through passivity and self-pity,

To see the beauty you can harvest

From the riches of this dark invitation

May you learn to receive it graciously,

And promise to learn swiftly

That it may leave you newborn,

Willing to dedicate your time to birth.


Every time I read it I find something new and it hits me in a different way. Today the eighth verse is resonating with me:


May you use this illness

as a lantern to illuminate

The new qualities that will emerge in you.

That’s exactly what has happened and is happening now. Cancer came and shone a light into the dark corners, forcing me to release what is false and embrace a new path, and it’s changed who I am in many ways. I can feel a new rising within me. I have a new direction and a new plan, but I still feel like I”m fighting against time and sometimes think “What’s the point?”

I’m doing another mushroom trip next month and this time my intention was to ask if there’s anything else my cancer wants to teach me, and if not, can it please just leave me alone? But I like how the author asks it even better:

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:

Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?

Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?

What quality of space it wants to create in you?

What you need to learn to become more fully yourself,

That your presence may shine in the world.


I think I may take a copy of that verse and the last verse as well, folded up in a pocket next to my heart, when I go for my trip. Or maybe I’ll just do it now and let those words soak in over the next few weeks.



AND IN OTHER NEWS:


The Dosed2 screening in Vancouver took place this past Wednesday and it was a blast! I'm so proud of the film and I truly believe it's going to help a lot of people. One of the best parts of the night was the people who came up to me afterward and thanked me for telling my story. So many had tears in their eyes and said "I have cancer too, and this gives me hope", and that's exactly why I did it.


Check out dosedmovie.com to find a screening near you, and you can also pre-order the film and own your own copy when it's released.






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