Each of my children began his/her birth journey under cover of night. The pains that heralded their respective emergences into the world commenced just after sunset. The car rides to Fletcher Allen in Burlington (for my son) and Mercy Hospital in Portland (for both daughters) were easily accomplished given the emptiness of the streets.
Their journeys, and mine, were undertaken with an endpoint firmly established. Regardless of interim detours, birth would be the inevitable result.
Similarly, Maine travel journeys are frequently begun in darkness. Living, as we do, away from major connecting airports such as Logan and LaGuardia, our adventures out of state typically necessitate an additional investment of time and miles. Long lines of business and leisure travelers may be found in the pre-dawn hours at the Portland Jetport, bleary-eyed and clutching their mandatory cups o' Joe.
As with a birth journey, a travel journey is often undertaken with the destination preordained. Darkness may shroud its inception, but its ultimate conclusion is known.
Not so with journeys spiritual.
To be sure, a spiritual journey is even more likely to begin in darkness than any sort of physical travel.
It is often begun unintentionally, the result of life transitions or trauma. And just as often, it is continued reluctantly.
Like birth, the spiritual journey may be fraught with pain.
Unlike birth, or travel, the spiritual journey may have no easily identified culmination. Endpoints simply yield new endpoints.
And along the way, darkness. Sometimes hazy, sometimes absolute.
Yet there is no alternative to moving forward: moving back in the direction from which we came, if even possible, proves darker and more painful still.
So we persist.
We persist despite knowing that our lives may be irrevocably altered. That we may find ourselves in places unfamiliar. That we may be subject to pain, and fear, along the way.
We persist because we realize that as with most journeys begun under cover of night--regardless of interim detours--birth will be the inevitable result.
Popham seagrass, January 2011