The Importance of Darkness

By M. F. Erler

The Importance of Darkness 

I recently wrote a blog on the value of light in our world, but I also touched on the importance of darkness, when I mentioned how our artificial lights block out the wonders of the night skies.  I have a friend living on a farm outside Grangeville, Idaho who takes amazing pictures of the night skies.  Of course, she has a special camera and other equipment, but she is also out in the country where the city lights don’t wash out the stars.

This past year, I began to explore the idea of our need for darkness.  Many people in our urban world are now sleep-deprived, scientists tell us, because we’ve washed out the night with all our city lights.  I read a book by Jules Verne, written in the mid-1800s, that lauded the advent of artificial light as a boon to mankind, because now people could work round the clock, with no need to “waste time” in sleep.  No one had thought of the vital nature of sleep to our bodies and minds back then, apparently.

Another thing I ran across in my reading this past year was “The dark night of the soul.”  This idea originated with John of the Cross, a monk in the late Middle Ages, who for his beliefs was imprisoned in solitary confinement for several years by the Spanish Inquisition.  Yet, instead of telling of how terrible this lonely darkness was, he praised it was a time of great “enlightenment” to him.  There’s irony for you.Maybe this is what our world needs, not more artificial light, but genuine darkness, a place to recharge our spiritual batteries.  Something that none of our technology can do for us.

Excerpt from “Beyond the World”

By M. F. Erler

“Image 2”

It felt so good to stretch his muscles after all the ages of confinement.  A laugh rumbled deep inside him, and a sudden puff of smoke came from his nostrils.  This made him laugh again with delight, and the smoke became a red-orange flame.

            Ah, yes, this was his favorite form.  All too often he had to disguise his true identity—posing perhaps as a handsome human male with sleek dark hair—sometimes as a threatening animal, such as a wolf.  The form he most detested, though, was when he had to imitate the golden glowing body of an angel, one of the Enemy’s trusted servants.

            This memory sent waves of rage through him, and bright blue flames shot from his mouth and nostrils.  He’d been one of them once—many eons ago—but now was cast out.  No matter how he tried to reassume his original form, it never quite fit anymore.  In fact, the very thought of it made him itch with an irritation that only got worse the more he scratched it with his long, curving claws.

            In anger he spread his huge leathery wings, admiring the dark shadows they cast across the landscape below, as he sat, perched on the edge of a craggy cliff.  At least now he was free of the chains that had bound him for so long. 

‘The Enemy thinks he has only released me for a time,’ he hissed to himself.  ‘But he underestimates me.  I still have powers he hasn’t seen, and when I unleash them…’

            The deep chuckling in his throat emerged as a roar.  This ominous sound echoed off the mountains all around, as he launched his huge serpentine form into space and took flight.  

Why Solstices and Equinoxes?

Photo.cropped

 

 

By M.F. Erler

I can remember as a child in elementary school learning about the Equinoxes and Solstices.  Maybe I was more interested in earth science and astronomy than my peers, but the image of the globe tilted on its axis, turning each pole in turn toward the sun in its yearly circle, has stuck with me all these years.

About eight years ago, I asked my geographer son to build me a miniature Stonehenge in our backyard.  He was glad to oblige, and used his dad’s GPS to accomplish a very accurate placing of each of the sight-stones in relation to the central one.  I can now tell exactly where the sun will be on our horizon at each solstice and equinox.

Why was this important to me?  I think partly because I need to remind myself that even when things in my world are growing dark, I can look forward to the eventual return of light.  That life is not just a linear journey from birth to death.  That it’s also cyclical.

As many of my Facebook friends know, I annually count down to the Winter Solstice.  This is the one I look toward the most, for it represents the coming back of light.  It was important to ancient cultures too, as we can see from the many ancient monuments like Stonehenge, which are oriented to show exactly when the solstices will come.  I actually find it surprising that so many of my friends now comment that they look forward to my countdown.  Maybe there’s an ancient “memory” in our DNA that points to these same times of the year that were so important to our ancestors.

Ironically though, as our world grows darker in most ways, we try to push back that dark with our artificial lights.  Whether they are street lights or Christmas lights, they actually block out the stars that our ancestors looked to for guidance.  Some places on earth, including Glacier National Park, are promoting their dark night skies, ideal for stargazing.  People even talk about “light pollution” now in all our urban areas.  Astronauts in space can tell exactly where the cities are as they orbit the night side of earth.  Each metropolitan area and even small towns are seen by their artificial lights, clumps and strings of them scattered across the face of the globe.  I wonder if it sometimes looks to these spacemen like a disease on the surface of the earth.

While we keep trying to find ways to push back the dark, maybe we need to be looking more for the lights within ourselves.  Yes, our world is a mess and seems to be getting worse almost daily.  But perhaps if each of us tries to let our lights shine out to others around us, we can do a better job of pushing back the dark.

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Photo.cropped by M. Frances Erler

I know I’m paraphrasing Shakespeare, so I hope he doesn’t mind.  With the Shelter-at-Home orders due to COVID19, I’ve been facing a challenge I’ve never encountered before.  We all have, I know.  Over the past three weeks all the plans I had for the next five months have gone out the window.  Or into the trash.  And yes, I know I’m not alone.

My quandry is whether to have a schedule for my empty days or not.  I’ve always been a planner, with a daily schedule on my bulletin board and a well-marked calendar on the wall. Setting up a new schedule has the appeal of helping me cope with everything and giving me some stability.  And a way to make sure I don’t ‘waste’ my time.

On the other hand, now that the calendar is gone, along with the schedule, I feel a strange sense of liberation.  I can do what I feel now, go with the flow.  Though I admit I find myself playing Solitaire on my Kindle a lot.  But maybe I need this bit of down time in a stressed life.

Hmm…I’m not sure which is better.  To schedule or not to schedule, that is the question.  Any ideas out there?

 

April Book News

 

 

 

Q. What do April Showers bring?

A. Long days to curl up with a good book!

 

 

 

**************NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE************

all too human book cover 2In 1905, Rebecca Bryan, the first woman to practice law in Kalispell, Montana, is sent by her uncle/ senior partner to a remote hunting lodge near the Canadian border. She’s to find the missing will of his deceased longtime love, the wealthy artist, Lucinda Cale. 

After a broken coach wheel forces her to set out in the winter forest at night, she meets Lucinda’s compelling son, Bretton. Next morning he takes her to Eagle Mountain where she meets the rest of the dysfunctional Cale family. There Rebecca also discovers Lucinda’s hidden diaries which tell of a naive bride’s victimization that hardened her into a manipulative, murderous matriarch. Lucinda’s estate is large. Each heir is desperate. Those involved reveal themselves to be All Too Human.

All Too Human  by Karen Wills was released September 18, 2019 by Five Star Cengage. Now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, & Five Star Cengage.

Midwest Book Review calls “‘All Too Human’ a simply riveting page-turner of a read from cover to cover. ‘All Too Human’ showcases author Karen Wills’ genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style that will make her deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining novel an immediate and popular addition to both personal reading lists and community library collections.”

Karen's author photo apr 2019

           

For more books by Karen Wills     including information on her other or upcoming historical novels or to arrange a book signing or interview visit karenwills.com

 

The seven-part young adult crossover saga, “The Peaks at the Edge of the World” by M.F. ErlerPhoto.cropped looks into the future of faith in a world that is beginning to fall apart.  The members of the Parker and Sullien families share their lives with each other across time and space, in a feature called the GAP.  Each time one of them crosses this passage (similar to a wormhole) a side-effect is caused in the other’s world.   The Peaks Saga relates these effects and brings each of them to the Final Battle, where the fate of our entire galaxy hangs in the balance. Book 1 – Finding the Light: Young Jael’s family is being torn apart by the Galactic System.  Can he find someone to help rescue his sister Martina, before it’s too late? Book 2 – Searching for Maia: Jael and Martina flee their home planet with a GAP-crosser named Jon.  As they search the galaxy for a safe haven, they begin to wonder if there is any rescue out there. Book 3 – Mountaintops and Valleys: The three searchers have found planet earth, but is it really the mysterious Maia they were told to search for?  Nothing seems to fit what they expected, and soon threats are beginning to pull them apart. Book 4 – When the World Grows Cold: Twenty-five years have passed on Earth, in both the 21st and 31st Centuries.  Ginna and Martina, once connected across the GAP, now have daughters of their own, but they have taken very different paths. Book 5 – The Fountain and the Desertfountain and desert: The next generation is searching for what only the True Fountain in the Desert can supply.  Celestia, daughter of Martina, is determined to take three friends there by Crossing the GAP.  But something goes terribly wrong. Book 6 – Beyond the World: beyond the worldA new dark force is rising, forcing Celestia and her family to flee Earth.  When they discover a portal to a parallel universe, their hopes rise that they can escape.  But is there true safety in this strange new world? Book 7 -Where All Worlds End: The powers of darkness are now personified as a terrifying red dragon, which must be defeated for the galaxy to survive.  All of the GAP-crossers must work together to do this, but who is the traitor among them?

ALL OF APRIL EACH BOOK WILL BE .99 CENTS ON KINDLE

 

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Delighted to share the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, the fifth Spice Shop mystery, out this July from Seventh St. Books, in paper, e-book and audio.  From the cover: 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

solaceofbayleaves

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface …

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow.

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own.

As we’re all being reminded, books are a comfort during difficult times. I hope you have a stack of good reads close at hand, and that you’ll take a moment to order a book from an independent bookseller — we need them more than ever! If you do, pop over to my Facebook Author page and tell me what you ordered and the bookseller; when this crisis is over and libraries and bookstores are open again, I’ll choose a reader to win a book of mine or a bookseller gift card. 

Be safe.