We have been considering how the term “ground” implies darkness and depth. Whether we are speaking of the human soul, the depths of the earth, the depths of the sea, or the depths of the sky and cosmos, there is a lot of darkness out there.  

Rev. Dr. Kate McLennan sharing about her love for Creation Spirituality and the Via Negativa.

We need to practice the dark and not let the modern era of “enlightenment” have the only word.  If we ignore the dark, it may return as shadow to bite us.    

Carl Jung and other psychologists might call this darkness the “unconscious.”  And science informing us that 97% of matter in the universe is “dark matter” or “dark energy” and that “black holes” play significant roles in the cosmos also suggest that we sit up and take notice about darkness.  

British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, in a public dialog that became a chapter on “Darkness” in our book Natural Grace, noted that through the discovery of dark matter cosmology has, as it were, recognized the existence of the cosmic unconscious…The kinds of matter and energy that we know about are floating on the surface of a vast, unknown ocean of darkness—just as the conscious mind floats on the unconscious mind.

The return of the archetype of the Black Madonna in our time speaks to these realities.

Standing in the light and shadow. Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.

Silence often accompanies darkness.  And depth.  And mystery.  Consider for example the experience of Job when he was carrying on and complaining to God about his suffering and fate.  When God challenged him about his ignorance about creation—that he was not there when the animals were birthed and the rest—Job’s response was to finally shut up.  To go silent:

I am speechless: what can I answer?

I put my hand on my mouth.

I have said too much already;

Now I will speak no more.   (40: 4ff)

We learn that cosmology–beholding the awe and terror of the universe—leads to clear thinking, to seeing things in perspective, and therefore to repentance….Healing is restored when Job and his community see their plight in light of the entire creation.  Then happiness returns to Job’s life.  His healing is not so much from sin or blame as it is about perspective and context.  He could not find healing in an anthropocentric view of the world.  The healing comes with the breakthrough of a cosmic awareness.

Gay singer-songwriter, Steve Grand, showcasing the Via Negativa/Via Creativa in his LGBTQIA+ Anthem entitled, “We Are The Night”. Originally posted to YouTube by the artist, Steve Grand.

Might a similar story happen for us earth people, almost overcome by the ‘dark night of our souls,’ as we learn to let go, to repent, to see anew in light of the awesome gifts of the universe?  

Silence is a kind of darkness.  As Sheldrake put it, darkness is paradoxically contained within light in the same way that silence is paradoxically contained within sound.  Sound is also a vibratory wave phenomenon.  When you clap out a rhythm, between the claps there’s a silence.  And it’s precisely that silence that enables you to distinguish the sounds.

So sound has silence within it, just as light has darkness within it. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science, pp. 132, 134. 

And from Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, pp. 148f.

Banner Image: Possible birthing place for stars: the darkness of Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Credit: FORS Team8.2-meter VLT AntuESO

Queries for Contemplation

Do you experience darkness within light?  And silence within sound?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science 
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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9 thoughts on “Darkness, Depth and Silence”

  1. Avatar

    I understand that ACCEPTING the darkness that comes in so many forms, such as negative thoughts, feelings, being hit by a truck, (actually happened) getting sick and getting older (not for sissies), and letting go, is crucial in coming into the light and experiencing true JOY.

    Sound can be experienced in silence as when one is perfectly still (in meditation) and understanding comes through at a level never before attained. Make sense?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Vivian, “ACCEPTING the darkness that comes in so many forms” means accepting ourselves as we are and the world as it is. And letting go is “crucial in coming into the light and experiencing true JOY.” Thank you for your comment !!!

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Within the sound of silence an inner voice is suddenly heard. It speaks a language that can only be intuited, the mother tongue of vibrations in pulsating images. Like an echoe it repeats eternal truths awakening memory. The sound of silence…. an empty chalice… wisdom comes to fill.

    Within the darkness comes a flicker of light, a small taper lit by the presence of Spirit that sees in the night. The sudden whisp of wind from her wings gently touches the shadow of the soul…. offering promises of
    shelter within the inner storm.

    The sound of silence floats in the in-between spaces, a darkness within the void beckoning…. be not afraid. An eddy of silence…. a spiralling darkness…. a surrendered stillness… the descent of unknowing…. suddenly resurfacing…. being Oned with all that I am.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, what you have shared with us is absolutely beautiful! Thank you sooo much !!!

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