GraceNotes: Holding the Space for … Reflection
#59 — March 1, 2017
Who looks outside dreams;
— Carl Jung
Greetings, Inspired Seekers!
As spring approaches, it occurs to me that groundhogs are not the only creatures that hide from their shadows. We don’t end up on the news or on the front page of the local paper, but we see our shadows nonetheless. And when we do, it is not always an event best viewed in public. Although, that occasionally happens.
The mystics of the world’s traditions define mature spirituality in many ways and by many means. And they do so always with great humility. One common thread in that definition is having the awareness that the persona we present to the universe is not our real, true Self. It is the mask. It is, as Jung would say, the self without our shadow. For it is the shadow part of our inner and true being that makes us uncomfortable.
It is, among other things, that side of ourselves that fights to perpetuate the lie that we are all separate and better than others. It wants us to believe that our culture is better, our religion is better, our ways are better and our birth places are better than others. This shadow self works really hard to make us believe this and, unfortunately, at times, it wins. It wins until we recognize and embrace that part of ourselves and then, with humility, forgive and transform.
This transformation is not easy - in fact, it is, most times, quite unsettling and downright painful. It requires that we buck up and admit that we are not really as good, as loving, as honest and as compassionate as we would like to think we are. Ouch. This transformation requires that we wake up from our arrogant sleep and see with new and enlightened eyes.
March is the month of awakening; it is a month of celebrating the shadow self in a multitude of ways by many traditions.
In the Christian tradition, Lent begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Following the indulgent partying of Fat Tuesday, we settle in to 40 days of prayer, fasting and reflection. The shadow self is brought into the light for healing and renewal.
The Hindus celebrate the feast of Holi, the festival of colors that welcomes the arrival of spring. The bonfires of this holy ritual bring the shadows, dancing, into the light.
Purim is the Jewish celebration of the saving of the Jewish people from Haman; it is remembering the day of deliverance from the shadows of death and this festival enjoys the sweet treat of Hamantaschen, that delicious tri-cornered cookie.
The Celtic and Earth traditions celebrate the feast of Mabon, the vernal equinox that heralds spring with gratitude for the upcoming fertile harvest and the changes of the seasons and the shadows.
Let us celebrate this very busy spiritual month in the tradition that is meaningful to each of us. Let us honestly reflect on the shadow self - the dark, the fear, the anger, the less-than self that brings our worst to the surface and keeps us from the Universal Force of Love for all. Because when we face our shadows, our true face becomes visible; when we turn our face inward, when we reflect, heal and transform, we have a new, bigger and more compassionate true self to offer the world. And the mask fades away.
Affirmation of the Month: Today, with reflection and grace, I become the wondrous creature I really am.
The Reverend Dr. Deborah Darlington is a seminary trained, ordained Interfaith Minister who provides coaching and services to people of all traditions and beliefs. Contact her at 215 260 1611 or GraceMatters@TheSpaceForGrace.com if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind sacred celebration or spiritual direction without judgment.