Traveling through the dark

This blog has been forming in me for the last 4 years – well, perhaps the last 14 years – no, for 59 years. Yes, 59 years, because all the hard, all the wonderful, all the pain, all the joy IS our story.

For most of my life I did not view myself as a writer but I have always been a collector. My English classes were boring, I have never been able to spell, I didn’t grow up reading and most of my college research papers were plagiarized works of art where I basically creatively connected all my notecards of information together into a lovely “research quilt” with almost none of my own thoughts included. Through the years, I struggled to find words to express what is deep inside me, but I’ve always been aware of the voices of others whose words resonated and challenged me, and I treasure those who can articulate thoughts I didn’t know I had and put words to truths that I longed to hear.

The last twelve years have been a season of waking up for me – a time of walking through the darkness of my soul. A time to find my own truth; a season of waiting and transformation not unlike what a caterpillar experiences as she is undone in her chrysalis, that may feel more like a tomb, but in reality is hope for new life. A caterpillar actually becomes liquid within the cocoon; completely undone. But even in that amorphous mess, there are “seeds” of the beauty it will become, placed there in the beginning of its creation as an egg. In my dark cocoon, I connected with my past by sitting in that darkness, listening and watching stories being told – painful, awful stories – but truths that I hold and that have formed me. I realized that hiding, ignoring and burying my truth did not protect me from it. It only gave all that was in the dark, power to control me and to keep me living out of fear, guilt, and shame.

And so I submitted to staying in my cocoon of transformation – for twelve years – being undone (It seems that something can only be remade if it is dismantled first – I hate that). Larva, cocoon, and butterfly . . . . “Separation, transformation and emergence. Life is full of cocoons. We ‘die to ourselves’ and are reborn again and again. By repeatedly entering the spiral of separation, transformation and emergence, we’re brought closer each time to wholeness. . . . “ (When the Heart Waits, pg. 78) We see this repeated everywhere: seed, buried in the ground, and a sprout of new life; a fertilized egg, the womb, and new birth; Egypt, the wilderness and Promised Land.

Life in the cocoon has given me many treasures. Well, not so much possessions, but I have learned what to pursue; what the real treasures are. Before this season of darkness, I was so stuck in a life filled with anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame. I was holding on so tight and being truly present was a foreign concept to me. I was trying so hard to survive that I was missing really living. But the message I kept hearing was let go. “Let go, Bren. It’s okay, just relax, breathe, be here and let go.” That is the primary message of the cocoon for me. For the caterpillar, in the chrysalis, she ceases to be who she once was. She is completely changed. She “lets go” and then one day, she flies!

“The chrysalis had opened! . . . A butterfly! . . . She made no attempt to fly; she just sat on the potting soil, pumping her wings. She seemed to be readying herself for her new life. . . . As I watched her black wings dip and flutter though the morning, a verse moved silently in my thoughts. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). When the time is right, the cocooned soul begins to emerge. Waiting turns golden. Newness unfurls. It’s a time of pure, unmitigated wonder. Yet as we enter the passage of emergence, we need to remember that new life comes slowly, awkwardly, on wobbly wings.” (When the Heart Waits, pg. 176).

So, I am in pursuit of the treasures of this life: presence, joy, wonder, peace, laughter, silence, solitude, compassion, prayer, creativity, simplicity, mingling with creation, mercy and grace shared between human hearts in community, the Bible, journaling, and the Mystery of Love with the One who created me and knows me.

Please know that every word spoken here is in process. I struggle to see myself as a writer – but more of a traveler. And I am desperately committed to the journey, to discovery, to truth and to grace. Journaling has been a part of my process for 30 years as it gives me a place to reflect, rant, sort through, discover, and express gratitude. I love it when I run across writers that are able to express the words that I can’t find. So, I will be sharing quotes from others, my questions about the chaos of this life, some of the occasional glimpses of what I believe God may be up to in me or in the world around me. My hope is that my wanderings and wrestling’s might resonate in both our stories.



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7 Responses to Traveling through the dark

  1. Ashli says:

    Oh Brenda, this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Elizabeth Johnson says:

    Brenda, how beautiful this is. You are definitely a writer; taking what’s in your soul and transforming it into words. I love you and am so excited for this new branch of your journey. Love you friend ~ Elizabeth


  3. Mona Hart says:

    I’m blessed by your words of wonder and awe. You tell our stories through yours and I am grateful, so grateful for the unfolding that brings new life. It brings a new Hope and courage to my own story. Promising life after death… It means so much.
    Thank you. Thank you for sharing the uniqueness of your journey.
    Thank you for your truth and the beauty that shines through the death! I love you with all my heart!


    • brendalouisewoods says:

      Mona, thank you for your thoughtful, loving encouragement. I love you too and appreciate you so much and how you bless so many of us. Thanks for leading the way into healing my precious sister and friend.


  4. Paul D. Love says:

    Keep up the good work❗️


  5. Keri Petersen says:

    Beautiful. I can’t wait to read more and to see where your words take me!


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