And so long as you haven’t experienced
this; to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
There are transformational moments in our lives when we experience a kind of emotional or spiritual dying—a shedding of old ways, notions, and concepts of ourselves. This process, which has been called the hero’s journey or the dark night of the soul can be a frightening one. We feel abandoned by the world, our families, our entire belief structure. We look in the mirror and cannot even recognize ourselves. We struggle to find anything familiar to ease our pain or give us a sense of belonging, but we cannot.
As we journey into the unknown, we begin to understand that we can only go forward by shedding all that no longer serves us. We find ourselves tired of carrying the anger, bitterness, jealousy, and fear. We wish for peace. We wish for a sense of belonging. And even when we don’t think we have any, we find courage, compassion, and love. And we emerge from these times in our lives with the battle scars of one who has seen the rawness of the soul, who has tasted pain, and who has a heart that can encompass more than previously imagined.
As Goethe writes, this process is part of being human. To avoid looking deep within, to refrain from taking a terrifying leap into the unknown would confine us to being only a troubled guest on the dark earth. But there is so much more that we are! We can open our minds, and open our hearts. We can fully bring ourselves into the present moment and become that, which we always have been.