Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Dark Room

I've had a fascination with old school photography my whole life.  My paternal grandfather was a ground-breaking photographer, developing chemical processes and guest lecturing for a major film company.

He passed away before I was born, and I was always fascinated with his life's work.

The dark room is the tricky part; the moment when you make it or break it.  Unprocessed film cannot be exposed to light, or it will be destroyed.  So, the photographer works in complete dark, a series of practiced motions leading them. 

Hands move without sight, opening canisters, winding film, placing in the processing tank, and sealing the film away again, safe from light and ready for the next step.

In the dark room, you need to trust your hands.  You need to follow the motions you've done before, confident that the practice, the process works. 

It will only be in the final steps that you will know if your hands have been true.  Everything from the moment you step in to the dark room to the moment you see the developer bring your film to life is an exercise in trusting the process. 

It's a leap of faith until the moment everything suddenly becomes visible.  Until then, it's all darkness, trust, and hope.

Since June, I've been sitting in the dark room of my soul.  No breaks of light or foreshadowing of great things.  Just the feel of my own hands working in the dark, moving through the motions I've spent a lifetime learning. 

Practicing blind trust because I feel no hope.  No grace.

In May, I was able to see and touch the relics of St. Gianna.  After the experience, I felt my chronic uterine inflammation (a piece in the infertility puzzle) was relieved.  With that relief, I was one katrillion percent certain a(nother) miracle was imminent and that I would be pregnant shortly.

As I sat in Mass, two days after the onset of a new cycle declaring a continuance of infertility, I physically felt my heart break, my soul shatter.

It was in the moment I entered the dark room.  I could see nothing, feel nothing.  Only the absence of miracles.

Since then, every Mass, every Confession, every prayer has been said from practice, from blind trust.  Not from any feeling of grace or goodness.

In the dark room, it's easy to doubt.  It's easy to think that perhaps it would be easier to just open the door and let the film spoil.

In the dark room, there's a lot of time to think.  In the moments when the dark room seems too much, I think about Mother Teresa.

Every time I do, I thank God her confidant didn't listen to her and throw away the letters detailing Mother Teresa's lifetime in the dark room.

She spent decades, acting on a faith she couldn't feel in her soul.  In her private writings, she details the pain of faith without tangible grace. 

The grace there, just outside the door of the dark room, constant and present, but unable to reach through.

I haven't wanted to talk about this darkness.  I've been hoping it would be relieved and I could put it behind me and move on to happier, more cheerful things.

But it hasn't lifted, and I wonder.  Who else is sitting in a dark room?

Do you know you're not alone?  I'm here, sitting in this room with you.  Trust the movements of your hands, trust the prayers spoken by rote but unfelt in your soul.  Trust, friend.  You are not alone.

The dark room cannot extinguish the truth or existence of the light.  The dark room is a part of the process. 

We need the dark room to keep the film safe, perhaps here our souls are resting and staying safe as well.  If only we trust the process.  Now our training will be what we lean on, and the stories of those who have braved this place before us.

Hold my hand, friend.  You are not in this room alone.


  1. What a beautiful and beautifully written, analogy.
    I'm also so grateful for the witness and example of Mother Teresa as well as the prayers and practices of Catholicism that become so ingrained that they provide a way for us to pray even when we have no other words to say.
    Thanks for sharing this, Annie.

  2. I'm right there with you! And for the same reasons: Infertility is the Dark Room of my soul, my heart and my life right now. And everything I do is also blind trust. Praying for us both in that blind trust!

  3. Oh, Annie. This is heartbreakingly beautiful. You put words to what so many people feel. God bless you and your dark room. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Wow, this is really powerful Annie. Even though I know it's not easy at all, or makes it better, I will say that I really admire your faith and that you're moving forward in holiness even though it doesn't feel like it.
    Love to you, friend!

  5. Annie, your words and your heart are precious and wonderful. I just experienced my second miscarriage today, and in the midst of the tears, I'm thinking ... Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, a la Dory in Finding Nemo. The room is dark but we keep acting and testing in faith because in time the light will come and show us the beautiful image of God we've helped create in the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hugs.

  6. When I find myself there, I am grateful that we have motions to go through while we wait in the dark. I'm praying for you, Annie. This took courage to share- thank you.

  7. Annie, this is just beautiful. I know this feeling, and you've put words to it in such a poignant way. Thank you. I want you to know that even when everything feels dark, if you're having trouble praying, I'm praying for you. I wish I could be there in person to give you a hug, but I'll just keep praying for you from here, friend.

  8. I love this! I'm not in the "dark room" but I definitely remember when I was and found comfort through Mother Teresa's writings as well. Although it may not seem like it (although this post is proof), out of the dark room comes much, much fruit.

  9. Just discovered your blog, and SO glad that I did. I've suffered with the darkness on and off the past few years... I'm right here with you too, Annie! ;) I'm Annie too...

  10. So glad u shared. I've been in this dark room at various times in my life. Thinking of mother Teresa has brought me comfort too. So good to know we're not alone. I think another reason i feel drawn to carmelite saints. God bless.

  11. Thank you for sharing this so beautifully! Praying for you.


I welcome positive, supportive sharing in this community. God bless!