My son had a recurring nightmare when he was a child, and it centered around something he called “the dark 2000 years old.” He would awake in absolute terror, yet he could not (and to this day still will not) talk about this monstrosity that terrorized his dreams.
So often the biggest monsters in our lives are the ones we refuse to confront. Like an ancient, dark presence they lie buried in our souls, coloring our behavior, our attitudes, our ability to live life to the fullest, often without our even being aware of their existence.
Perhaps it is dissapointment in a spouse, who in some way has failed to live up to the expectations and dreams you once shared.
Perhaps it is anger at a parent, who failed to provide the love and encouragement you needed.
Possibly, it’s guilt surrounding a failed relationship with a family member or friend.
Maybe it’s disillusionment regarding a career that has proven to be less fulfilling and rewarding than you had hoped. Or a dream for yourself that you’ve neglected to pursue.
So often we shelter these dark monsters in our heart, afraid to expose them to light and compassion, and change. It takes great courage to grab hold of these creatures and stare them in their wretched faces. And sometimes you can’t do it alone – you need the presence of a strong and steady lover or friend to stand guard as you struggle with the demon. Yet, if you are powerful enough to conquer your own “dark 2000 years old,” how safe and free you will become, safe enough let yourself love with abandon, free enough to pursue all those dreams you’ve hidden away.
My little boy used to stand wild eyed and trembling at my bedside in the middle of the night, consumed with fear at this indescribable horror that had insinuated itself into his life. I would scoop him up into my arms, ply him with gentle conversation and some warm Ovaltine, read his favorite storybooks, and try my best to eradicate the evil monster in his mind. It wasn’t all that difficult to do, because, as bad as his “dark thing” was, it was a vague, amorphous evil. As adults, our monsters are often all too solid and well-formed. Dealing with them might require tougher measures than a gentle cuddle and a story with a happy ending.
Then again, perhaps not. Sometimes even life’s oldest, darkest dilemmas will respond quite well to a hearty dose of love, optimism, and faith.