One of the most valuable wisdoms gleaned from nursing has been a learned comfort of the darkness. Not the literal darkness- the shrouding of the day behind the stars, the turning off of the light at the end of the day to slip under your covers. No, the darkness within each of us and the darkness outside of us that we have no control over.
I have seen the wrongs that humans inflict on one another. The things most people see on the news, but can turn off the set and rest their minds in the relative comfort of their own home and family. Murder, child abuse, rape...we could go on and on, right? The worst of this is being a pediatric nurse and knowing the sick, solid knowledge of how often these horrors are inflicted on children. You do not EVER get used to seeing these things, you do not become jaded against these horrors. You cannot.
However, I have become comfortable with the darkness. I currently work as a public health nurse and have become comfortable with the day after day trek into the bleak world of poverty. I no longer shudder when a cockroach scurries across my nursing clog, when a child picks bed bugs off his mattress, at the sometimes rampant rotting, decay of the low-income housing where the landlords can be cruel and jaded and uncaring. I strive to make the lives of these families better, so much better. I empower them to hope for more, so much more. Many of these families come from generation after generation of desperate poverty and have given up hope. Addiction, abuse and desperation lie everywhere, but hope is rare. My job is to plant seeds of hope and wish for them to germinate and grow. I know the sad knowledge now that I cannot save everyone, as reverently as I wish for that to be true.
I have learned that I can feel sorrow and compassion for those that society has taught us deserve none. Even the abusers often have stories that chill your soul and make you weep in your car after your shift is over. I no longer wonder why there is so much violence and sadness in our world, I am often surprised that there is not more with the childhoods of daily, horrific violence, neglect and poverty that is rampant around the world. It is a hard knowledge to carry with you and not become jaded and numb.
I have learned to walk into the darkness and be comfortable there- at least at comfortable as one can be in such a place. I shine as much light as I can into the dark corners that have never seen light. I do my best to leave the darkness behind at the end of the day and not let the blackness spill unto the light of my own life. It is not easy.
What I do know is that when you become comfortable with the acrid bleakness and can arise out of the darkness into your own light again and again, you find it ever so much easier to forgive those that have never know how to rise into the light.
Shine your light, Dear Ones. The darkness only makes you shine brighter.