Day 10

A dark path home

4 Paths

During my adolescence I would often visit the home of an elder from my parents’ church to talk and drink cups of tea. Our conversations would be based around the Christian faith and Brian, a kind, gentle and loving man, mentored me. Now, where we used to meet was a half hour walk from my parents’ house. To get there I could either walk through this patch of wood filled with trees growing in straight lines and stinging nettles and brambles carpeting the ground. Slicing down the side of the wood was a thin path broken up by thick tree roots, a dried up streambed and a flowing stream. It was, and remains, one of my favourite places. It’s a place that cuts out the noise of zooming cars and shouting people. In other words, it is a haven and one of the four ways to reach Brian’s old house. At night, unlike two of the other routes, it is a dark place. The second and third routes were lamp-lit and safe, one following the course of the roads and the other following the course of the Black Brook. The fourth route, the way I decided to take on this particular evening, was like the first one in that it lacked lighting. On this night, after saying farewell to Brian and his wife Terri, I headed off along this path that began with winding its way through some washland.

Obviously

Everything started fine. It was merely a dark path. I’d been that way many times before; there was nothing different this time. It wasn’t long until my mind started to fill in apparent blanks. The tree that was illuminated by the moon wasn’t a tree but a ghostly figure. There were eyes watching me and that fear of being followed by an unknown creature, a superstition that haunted me from my childhood, returned. My heart hammered. My imagination whirled. After a while, I left the washland and followed a thin track that merged with a wider, stony road. There was still no lamplight. I pulled out my brick of a mobile phone and started texting a couple of friends. Each time I looked down at the bright screen, I wandered off the path and onto the grassy verge. Numerous times I looked up to find myself standing on some grass, about to walk into a tree. The evening seemed to be stretching on longer than it should do until, up ahead, there was a streetlamp shining an orange glow down onto the end of the path.

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2 thoughts on “Day 10”

  1. Not a comment of a spiritual nature in this case, but more of a practical observation really. That is, that many people are afraid of the dark, either because of the dark itself, or because of what might be there in the darkness. Do a bit of people-watching, or take some friends on a dark path and closely observe their behaviour, and you will probably find that a significant proportion of people aren’t all that comfortable in the dark.

    I find that realisation quite empowering actually, because if you can learn to be at home in the dark and treat darkness as your ally, then you are at an advantage because for many this is not so. In turn, that helps me to feel more at home in the dark, so it’s win-win! 🙂

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    1. Ah, yup – I’ve had numerous experiences of walking with jumpy people in the dark… I guess part of the fear is not knowing what’s within the shadows and your imagination, ‘kindly’, fills in the blanks…
      Have you ever had a particular experience regarding dark paths?

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