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Darkness Is Asking To Be Loved


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel shared this poignant, powerful invitation. Now, more than two years later, her call to intimacy with the hurt of the world still resonates. By holding ourselves together, are we holding ourselves aloof from painful reality? If so—how can we let ourselves fall into grief, and love, and communion?

Unrest in Minneapolis over the May 25th, 2020 death of George Floyd. © Chad Davis from United States, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

By now we have lost the tiny sense of peace we created for ourselves. Our composure is an idea long gone, reflected in the grinding of our teeth and locked jaws.

Come down here on this earth and breathe for those gasping for air.

If you are still holding up trying to meditate, I invite you to fall down. Fall down on the earth. Come down here and smell the sweat of terror on your skin, overpowering the scent of agarwood. Come down on all fours and greet the darkness that reeks of death, reaches out its desperate hand and asks to be loved as much as we love the light it gives.

Come down here on this earth and breathe for those gasping for air. Hear each scream as a bell that never stops ringing. Bury your face in the mud of this intimate place, in this shared disease and tragedy.

If you have nothing to say, now is the time for the deeper silence honed that does not apologize or seeks something kind to say. And yet the deeper silence is not quiet. It whispers in the dark and wakes you from the nightmare.

Come down here and be still on the earth. Let loose shame, rage, guilt, grief, pain, and make a river of it.

Fall down onto the earth.
Fall off your soft cushions.

Come down here. Catch the love poems hidden in the shouting, watch the unfolding of the seasons from the ground, look up at the sky. And when it hurts from being down here so long, roll over and see what you couldn’t see from the other side.

Breathe out loud. No particular posture needed.

Fall down onto the earth. Fall off your soft cushions. Come down here. Come down here, where the only lullaby tonight will be the sound of your heart drumming the songs you were born with.

This article was originally published on Lion’s Roar. It is reprinted here with permission.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, author, poet, and ordained Zen Buddhist priest is the dharma heir of the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage. Zenju Osho is the author of The Shamanic Bones of Zen, The Deepest Peace, Sanctuary, The Way of Tenderness, and Tell Me Something About Buddhism. A California native, she lives in New Mexico.
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