The Pit, Part V: Loving the Darkness

Last summer Henry read The Hobbit to our family. Each night before bed, the four of us would pile up on the sofa or K’s bed and listen to the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves in their quest to reclaim the dwarf king’s throne and riches from the dragon Smaug. Henry and I watched the first installment of the film version (K waits for them to be released on DVD because, though he loves the story, he worries the images on big screen will frighten him; he’s wise that way). The little hobbit outwits (and, let’s face it, outlucks) Gollum in the cave; he survives troll, goblin, spider, and warg attacks, not to mention the mistrust of Thorin, the leader of the expedition and would-be dwarf king. And finally, near the end of the first film, when the eagles have delivered Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves to safety on a mountaintop, and Gandalf has healed Thorin, and Thorin finally accepts Bilbo, the sun rises and our brave team sees Erebor, the dwarf homeland, on the horizon. Things are finally starting to look up. Bilbo breathes a sigh of relief and says, “I do believe the worst is behind us.”

I think about poor Bilbo, plucked from his comfortable life by Gandalf for a dangerous and deadly mission with the dwarves, his hopeful naiveté that each trial would be his last.

Nobody goes willingly into The Pit. It’s dark and scary, and danger seems to wait at every step. It does no good to ask how I got here: I slipped and fell, Gandalf made me come, it was time.

The Pit shows me what I am made of, and it’s not always pretty. Beliefs: he has power over me; I don’t have power over him. Habits: keeping secrets. Archetypes: the trickster, the devil, the dragon guarding a stolen fortune.

In the past when ugliness in me has risen to the surface, I have done my best to extract it. I have burned journals, run old letters through the shredder, cast rocks into the river, anything to get rid of it. When that didn’t work I tried to ignore the ugliness, hoping that my lack of attention would starve it. This run in The Pit was different. Neither of those tactics worked.

I tried love. What if I could look at that ugly thing and say, “I love you.”

But I have loved the wrong things. I have loved the belief, the habit, the dragon.

Nobody comes out of The Pit feeling strengthened or renewed. If and when we come out it’s because we have cast off what no longer serves us and we have found what we need to face the next phase of the adventure. Bilbo finds the Arkenstone (and the ring, but that opens up a whole other can of worms). The dwarves slay the dragon.

I am leaving the ugliness in The Pit. I found what it is I am supposed to love, not the darkness, not the dragon, but me.

Published in: on September 5, 2013 at 6:55 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Amen.

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