art, hope, letting go, living, moments, time

Dark Night

profile                                                     Art & Poem by Carmen H Gray

I wrote the poem below 25 years ago. Found it today rummaging through old things this morning and it inspired a self-portrait. Although I am quite sensitive/empathic, in all these subsequent years, but especially in the last 5 ones, I have learned how to shore up my psychic boundaries, practice self-care and self-compassion. This has created a firmer foundation for me to explore who I am and what I feel, apart from others around me. It has led me to shed the burdens that I have allowed others to place upon me. In other words, I have a better sense of me. I read this poem now and realize, I no longer feel these emotions. I absolutely can and do sense the grief and heaviness in others, especially I can tap into this during my reiki sessions with my clients. I hear the feelings/experiences that are present in their subconscious.  But, there is no need for me to take on another person’s healing process now. I am there to reflect it, but not to feel it for them. For my own healing unfolded, and for this I am grateful.

Dark Night

To be alert and eyes wide open,

Heart exposed, vulnerable organ that it is,

Is to be both cursed and blessed.

But it is the only way to truly be

To truly live, and see and feel and die.

As I witness sad souls beat down in this world,

My heart feels heavy with the weight of their sorrows

How insignificant it may be, that in my life

I am present when your restless soul seeks

The warmth of another, reaching, hands outstretched, searching, searching…

How common that I mourn for you

When nights are long and painful

The senses are heightened

For every smell is sickening

And even silence is too loud

How simple to share moments of despair

When a blanket of nothingness surrounds you

Groping, blindly for hope

Hope, hope…this is what will save us

Returning to our human condition

Sharing our dark night of the soul




“Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened. Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared.” ~Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens


By Carmen H Gray

Perhaps this is where

I found myself

Or maybe I was fully aware

Of choosing to head left

Where right was the “way” to go

When I happened upon that cleft

Through my wanderings I see

That no path is perfect

Each has its shade from the hawthorn tree

Each has its thorns you have to sidestep

But I am glad

As I stop to recollect

For all that I have had

For comfort I did not expect

For shelter

As I Iingered lonely on someone’s doorstep

For helpers

And for every experience that let

Me find myself here




by Carmen H Gray

Last night I decided to go back to revisit the wound and give thanks to those underappreciated people who stand guard over the children who suffer, fight, overcome or do not and the families who echo all of those actions of their children.

I drove up to the familiar building and walked in to the smell of chemicals and surgery.  The warmth of the wooden floors, an attempt to grant the victims of life’s bewilderments a sense of sanctuary.  I passed by the surgery check in, where memories flooded my whole being.

I found the elevators, not where I remembered them being, already the lay out of a once familiar place not so familiar anymore.  I walked into Four North, and looked for the usual faces.  I remember the face of a mother whose eyes I would meet with the same look of fear of being in an uncontrollable situation we were both faced with, but to my irrational surprise, she was no longer there.  In fact, there were not many familiar faces at all, only one nurse on duty who I remembered and who recalled me.

I handed her the picture I had chosen of my survivor child and of me, the survivor mother, some stickers for the children, a note of gratitude and some chocolate croissants for the nursing staff.  The night staff was always especially patient and I knew that job was probably the hardest.  It was always night when I would ride out the chemotherapy with her, in between gracious spells of rest.  The best nurses would be the ones who tried their best to be like quiet ninjas, moving in and out of the room to check her vitals and administer the seemingly unending medications to counter the negative effects. I left after a brief conversation, walking past the newest troop of young patients donning the masks to protect their immune systems.

What did I feel?  I felt…..relief.  Appreciation.  Closure.  I recognized all of the changes that had synthesized inside me over the past year.  Thank you hospital, for housing her.  Thank you meditation garden, thank you pharmacists, doctors, nurses, assistants, cleaning staff, warm blankets, therapy dogs, music therapists, volunteers, families, life and death and everything in between.

I drove home in the Ordinary World.  Traffic, a homeless man begging change at the light, an irritated driver, the cool relief of just another evening in October.  The beauty in the mundane.