"Where there is darkness, light"
Jedi are often depicted as the guardians of light against the forces of darkness. We are here to shine the light of truth into the hearts of those shrouded in the blackness of ignorance or despair, or perhaps the pale twilight of half-truths and misunderstanding.
But our lives remain full of darkness. Despair and ignorance are part of every life, even as a Jedi, and indeed serve as powerful motivators for us to improve our situation; if we were perfectly happy and knew everything, how could we be anything other than conceited and smug? Whilst there is pain, suffering or hatred in the world, we must either accept the darkness inherent in life, or ignore it.
Our religion is founded on dualities, dichotomies, this-yet-thats. We understand that without down there can be no up. Without in there can be no out. And so we understand that without darkness there can be no light.
Darkness is necessary, sometimes.
But sometimes, there is too much darkness. Too little light. Sometimes, we can't see to move because of the black space we find ourselves in. Sometimes it can feel as though the moon, sun and stars have fallen from the sky and there is no distance we can travel to ever reach light again.
At several times in my life I've wandered deep into that darkness. I've been determined to kill myself, to "give up" on the path which had led me away from the light. To return to the Force for another try, a do-over. Or perhaps to simply surrender myself to oblivion. To allow all the doubt and fear and despair to be obliterated, no longer my concern, no longer my darkness.
I have a friend who did kill herself. I say a friend (and always will), but by the time she ended her life one day in San Francisco I hadn't spoken with her for a year or more. It turned out no one had. She'd been labouring through her own darkness which none of us saw or imagined alone, and simply couldn't bear it anymore. She threw herself from the Golden Gate Bridge, and her darkness ended. At least, that's what she believed.
What happened then was her darkness became our darkness. Her suffering, her loneliness, the utter despair which had consumed her became her parents', her siblings' and her friends' darkness. Not only was a beautiful girl's light snuffed out that day, but so too was the little light reflected in the hearts of all those who knew her.
The world is forever dimmed by her absence, and the absence of the possibilities her life held. She was a talented writer, she was funny and caring and unique. She was truly and sincerely loved, but in her darkness she couldn't see it. There was no light left shining in her world. And when I find myself in darkness now, alone and afraid, I understand that it is my darkness; that only I can see it. And I know that it's my responsibility to call out to those who walk in light to help me, because if I don't, it won't just consume me: it will become their darkness.
I'm so lucky to have found this Temple. An Order of those whose "legend brings light", people sworn and committed to other people. Because not only do they help me when my path is dark, they let me help them too. They teach me to become a light. I joined the clergy here not out of boredom, or a desire to gain rank. I did it because I want to become a light for those who walk in darkness.
Darkness is necessary, sometimes.
But only sometimes.
Be the light for those who walk in darkness. Don't deny it, ignore it or pretend it isn't real. Take it seriously, even if you've never been there, and never seen it yourself. Even if the sun shines on every moment of your life and you can't truly understand it, understand what it can mean. What it can do to a person. Don't imagine for a second that it is "only darkness". Darkness blinds you. It traps you. And it can consume you.
And all it takes to rescue someone from darkness is a little light.
For those who reached out to me recently, and those who didn't have to for me to know they were there.