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As I Sit in Darkness

As I Sit in Darkness

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Sitting in the darkness wondering from where the light will come... this time.

I've been here many times before and each time eventually it comes -- the light -- though I never know from where or when nor even if, though it has yet to fail me.

But perhaps the uncertainty is requisite. Perhaps it takes this trembling fear, this shaking, quivering terror of being forever trapped in this sticky-thick blackness in order for the light to emerge. Perhaps without these the light would never come.

The blackness and terror invade me until finally I succumb and sink, like a drowning man, to a place of pure doubt and faithlessness.

Then, from this mire a pathway opens -- to the miraculous, the unexpected, the heretofore-not-to-be-conceived.

Because that is what comes when faith is lost and rediscovered; when unexpectedly, desperately gasping for breath, he finds himself cast upon an island, dazed, blinking against the blinding sun, breathing deeply, openly, once again connected without the slightest notion of how he got there.

But while wallowing in the wasteland of darkness, each time it is the same. Always I forget. I can't remember who I was before. I can't find yesterday's source of nurture. I can't remember nor laugh nor even look upon my favorite vista with wonder any longer.

Wisdom and experience escape me. Perspective and understanding collude with the darkness, hide within it, skillfully conceal themselves no matter how desperately I seek them.

Left alone, without resource, I question: Where have I gone? How does the darkness erase me so completely?

But then, with light once again restored I wonder just as quickly: Was there concealed in this blackness, disguised as fear, white cleansing snow come to purify me? In erasing me so completely was there then created a space for something new, a cleansed, expanded vessel within which a brighter, clearer light is now contained?

And though I'd much prefer my cleansing in another way, am I so ungrateful for the gift that I would reject it for the unpleasantness of the wrapping?

Yes, sometimes. Sometimes it is too painful and confusing. Sometimes I feel so out of control, so victimized and helpless. Sometimes in frustration and need I cause hurt to others. Sometimes I would reject the gift... if I could.

But if I had that choice, the blackness would not be so thick, the fear so overwhelming.

If I had that choice perhaps the light would never come, because, it seems, this is a demand of the miraculous:

That it occurs when choice is not, when we find ourselves immersed in hopelessness -- standing at the edge of the Sea of Reeds with Egyptians behind and water in front with nothing but despair.

Now, comes the unexpected, the heretofore not conceived, the opportunity and gift given by G‑d regardless of our merit and according to His mercy. Now the waters part and stand revealing their jewels, containing gifts that beckon to be grasped and taken for our own.

And we land, in light, upon foreign, distant shores, upon wilderness awaiting our exploration, clothed in fresh, simple garments, pioneers of a self born simply of our soul demanding its expansion, exhorting us to the selflessness of self that precedes the emergence of a greater self and soul, closer to the essence of our being.

And in bewilderment we forge ahead, in wondrous garments, guided and protected by clouds of glory, seeking our humility, challenged by our need and desire, reaching for mountains we wish to climb, a G‑d we wish to know, a life of truth we wish to lead.

In prayer and pain we called -- I called -- today I call:

-- Oh please G‑d hear my pain and agony, my confusion and despair -- Oh please G‑d, see the blackness in which I sit, the fear I feel, the oppression. -- Oh please G‑d, my labor is so hard, my daily toil so overwhelming, the straw so hard to find, the bricks so hard to bake. -- Oh please, G‑d, save me, bring me light where now I see only darkness, bring me hope though I am surrounded by Egyptians more powerful than I, trapped in a guarded foreign land of materialism, lust and greed from which there is -- with certainty -- no escape.

And from the distance, while I sit in darkness, appears a light, a hope, a future, a new self born.

And while I wish it could be in another way -- with less suffering and fear -- would I really reject the gift for the unpleasantness of the wrapping?

Jay Litvin was born in Chicago in 1944. He moved to Israel in 1993 to serve as medical liaison for Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl program, and took a leading role in airlifting children from the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; he also founded and directed Chabad’s Terror Victims program in Israel. Jay passed away in April of 2004 after a valiant four-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their seven children. He was a frequent contributor to the Jewish website Chabad.org.
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kmr September 23, 2015

Dark night of the soul: the only help is from G-d. I was looking for something to "help" today and the more I look for it the more disappointed I become. So the best thing to do is to just be silent before G-d and let him continue the purging of the spirit. It is agonizing but I'd rather be here in G-d's darkness than in the false light of the world. Reply

Anonymous September 2, 2015

you make it sound way too easy this does not help Reply

Noel Encino, CA October 10, 2009

G-d Bless Jay Litvin I have never read so poignant an essay on the spirit's salvation from light to darkness as Mr. Litvin's. Mr. Litvin's soul lives on in this story where the depiction of the Sea of Reeds is a spiritual gulf each individual most cross in order to find G-d! Thanks for posting this story! Reply