I am sitting peering over the edge into a dark abyss of pain.

It happens that it is not my personal pain. But, even as I observe it at this slight remove, I know it is not entirely unfamiliar. I have traveled this difficult territory on my own at times.

As we probe this uneasy terrain, it is important that I do not allow myself to fall into this dark place. If we both lose our bearings completely, it will be difficult to find our way to any place of steadiness or hope.

It feels as if there is no solid ground beneath our feet. There does not seem to be any escape from the desperate hurt, the confusion of emotion, and the apparent hopeless reality of circumstance.

How do we find our way to the light when all we can discern is darkness?

I know how much of my life has been spent trying to avoid this place. I know that I have often filled my days with busyness, distraction and anesthetic in order to avoid facing that sense of annihilation that threatens to overwhelm us as we confront the reality of this torment.

I sit on the edge allowing the negative energy to storm. The disjointed words, half-finished sentences, and long silences bear testimony to the confusion and suffering at the centre of this difficult place. I hold the space. The anger, hurt and defeat crash between us. I sense the fear at the heart of this turmoil.

But it is a tiny bit easier not to be completely swallowed when it is not my own chaos. Observing from this slight remove, I know there is another reality. I sense deep inside myself that there is solid ground. There is a place that knows, that hopes, that holds the light that will not be overcome by this darkness (John 1:5).

There is a force of life that cannot be defeated.

If I can hold this awareness of “eternal life” we may ride out this storm. We certainly will not come to a place where all the problems are easily resolved.  We will not leave this room with everything tidy and in order.  But we may walk away with a little less fear.

We have peered over the edge. We have stepped into the abyss and fallen fallen fallen. But somewhere in the process we have found that the ground held. We did come to a place that is secure. We did discover that the darkness is not a bottomless pit, an endless swirling vortex of nothingness. There is something that holds. Deep down in the dark, in the hidden place, the secret place where we have been driven together by the storm there is a strength and a peace that we begin to touch.

This is the good news. There is always light in the darkness.

But we do not find that light by fleeing the darkness. We do not know hope by ignoring fear or pretending our fears away. We do not come to a place of life by denying the reality of death.

The light shines in darkness. (John 1:5)

For a moment we open to the possibility that there is a place within us that is stronger and more real than all our fears. If we carry this awareness with us, next time we may face that swirling vortex with a little more calm and a little less chaos.