Sweet Darkness — David Whyte

I’m coming to realize that this poem below, by the Irish / American David Whyte, shows up to guide me with regularity.

Sometimes it is in the darkened days that lead to Winter Solstice. When my body seems to know to go a bit further inward.

Sometimes the guidance is when I’m tired, and I’m trying to remember what really calls me to life and what I wish to contribute from that.

Sometimes the guidance is to give myself permission to stare out the window at trees blowing, leaves falling, or snow accumulating.

It’s the line about “too small for you” that often catches me. I don’t have much energy these days to follow patterns of inflated aggrandizing nor of perpetuated denials of that which is so beautifully ordinary. I do have energy to remind, and to be reminded, of the sweet imagination that compels life to more life.


Sweet Darkness
David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

5 Replies to “Sweet Darkness — David Whyte”

  1. One of my all-time favorites as well. I recall memorizing this one day as I was driving up to Mt. Evans (a nearby 14,000 peak) and feeling the anticipated joy of being in that high place.

    I’ve come to understand that being “alive” does not mean *big.* What brings me alive might be the wind bringing a swaying to the tall grasses beyond my patio window. There is no soundtrack in the background, only gentleness and the body memory of a breeze gracing my cheek.

    There is no mistaking the message that is coming to me again and again. A recent experience of lectio divino brought me this, from the story of Mary and Martha receiving Jesus of Nazareth in their home and Martha complaining about Mary not helping with the elaborate preparations. Jesus of Nazareth says, “Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one.” And noting that Mary’s decision to listen to the teachings was perhaps the better part.

    I’ve typed it out and look at it daily: Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one.

    And therein lies my freedom.

  2. T-
    Karla Reading very recently attending a “live” session on zoom with Jean Houston. (lucky gal) Jean made a reference to “the holy darkness”. The phrasing is remaining with me as a current metaphor for our human consciousness, both collectively and individually.
    As you go further in to rest and rekindle please remember that you are the bringer of light for so many.
    With loving gratitude,

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