Embracing the Night Sky with Sunburned Arms

I often discuss spirituality with others who are interested in it because it is a meaningful topic to me. I am also frequently involved in group situations where people are coming together for a ritual, a class, a meal, or another action of some type where we align our energies for a common purpose. In all of these contexts, and in online groups and forums, it is common to give blessings to one another, to the group, or to the action being undertaken. These well wishes take many forms, and most of them appear to me intuitively as innocuous at worst and actively beneficial most of the time. However, there is one that is both very common and generally held in high regard that I have a difficulty with.

This is slight variations on the wording of “may you receive only love and light” or “may I/we/our actions share only love and light with the world.” Whenever I hear or read that, I feel a sense of foreboding in the same way I might if I was being asked to clean up an unspecified mess in a closed room that I did not get to look into before beginning the task. It is the kind of response I have had when I knew I needed to solve a problem that would probably result in a fair amount of work that would be difficult for me and that I knew would be both necessary and unappreciated. It feels to me like the kind of work that might even make the people who have asked me to do it or who might directly benefit from it angry at me for doing it.

On the surface, none of this appears to be directly related to the wish for “only love and light.” Every time I flinch when someone says that, I have had to ask myself why. Am I opposed to this concept? Do I feel uncomfortable because I have not learned to allow blessings into my life? Am I too aligned with energies that are at odds with this way of looking at light to be able to see the value in this statement?

I know that I would be looked at with distrust, or possibly avoided if I shared my feelings with the people who speak these words as they are spoken. I also see that those who speak them to me typically mean well in a very real and genuine way. They often expect me to respond in kind. I can see how speaking the words lifts their spirits and makes them smile, just to say them. So why do I not feel this way?

I look to my dreams for answers in the heat of summer when the nights are so short they are sometimes easy to miss. I ask the precious evenings of fog found at the edge of the living grey ocean for understanding. In silence I contemplate the dark spaces between the stars when I am lucky enough to see a section of the night sky left behind the streetlights’ glare. As a surge of pedestrians chatters happily on the sunny side of the street, I cross at the corner to find the moving shade beneath a tree that has taken advantage of last winter’s extra rainfall and has sprouted an explosion of leaves. Since I am awake from wondering too many things too fast, I ask the last moment of the night before the dawn.

Whispered answers come back to me in the language of stars twinkling in the mist, in the alphabet of and bats and swallows chasing mosquitos at dusk, and in the script of walnut leaves outside my window. I must sort them out because they are not in the language of the questions I asked, and it is difficult to understand which answer goes to which question. Perhaps I asked too many, and am being laughed at for it. Or maybe I didn’t ask enough and the answers are incomplete.

After years of looking at this puzzle of answers, I am left with only a circle that has part of it missing and a single word. The answer to all of my questions, or to any single question turns out not to be very important. The reason I respond the way I do to this particular blessing is because the single word takes part of the circle away. That word appears to me as a sharp blade that separates the full, wonderful spectrum of all types of valuable and meaningful energies and divides only one portion from the rest to hold as important enough for us as humans to focus our energies on making it a part of our lives in an intentional way.

The reason this blessing is uncomfortable to me is because when the single word comes from the mouths of so many for so long, it starts to create its own egregore that tends to practice a magic of division that throws things out of balance because it is a magic that excludes. This word is a way of saying that we humans know better than anyone else what the way to healing is, or the way to move forward, or the way to take action. It is the knife that cuts out a piece of the circle and denies the aid that can’t be imagined because we are limited creatures who each can see only so much. This word is “only,” and here is my interpretation of the whispers that became a circle and a word.


Who carries

your portion of silence

while your mouth

is moving?


Who holds

the hand of Mother Night

while you are dancing

in the sun?


Who stands

at the edges of the day

while you hurry

home to bed?


Who walks

the path of forest shadows

while you are sitting

on the grass?


Who looks

outside where owls are flying

while you are kindling

electric flames?


Whose feet

are buried in the mud

while you are reaching

for the skies?


Who will love

your birthright of the dark

while you are waiting

for the dawn?


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