Friday, April 26, 2013

Tornadoes, Shadows, and Muck

Boston bombings, West explosion, Senate gun vote, watching the documentary "Trigger," discussing the idea of personal and collective shadow, thinking about my own shadow, waiting to find out when I'll go to Palestine, finances, Spanish classes: all in my mind, sometimes spinning, swirling, not yet settling, twisting together, not in neat patterns, but tornadic whirls, forces within that leave me with brows furrowed.  That is my starting point right now.

It's the tornadic whirls within that have kept me from writing sooner this week.  I want to have control over the words that go from my fingers to this page and I was not certain, and still am not certain, that I'd like the words that might spin out of me.  I'm only hoping that the honesty that may emerge (if I allow it) is an asset.

So maybe I should start with this: "Your life is a secret to me."

Words said in the context of a Spanish lesson, spoken in Spanish.  Words I am fairly certain I didn't acknowledge at the time, because how do you acknowledge that a loved one feels like you are keeping secrets, especially when it's said in the context of a Spanish lesson?

Insert knife.  Twist.

In an effort to ignore the pain, I moved on with the lesson.

However, I am in the middle of teaching my spirituality students about the shadow that each of us has within us.  It is virtually impossible to teach about the shadow without admitting to one's own.  Consider this my admission.

Yes, I have a shadow: a part of me that I don't like, don't want, hope you never see.  So do you (she types accusingly).  But we don't need to get into yours (she types, backing off, knowing that her accusation in no way helps her to go where she needs to go).

If you've read more than a post or two, you've probably witnessed my shadow and could probably tell me something about it, so why I think it's some great revelation to say I have one, I'm not sure.  I guess I wanted to believe I can fool you into thinking I'm the perfect Self I long to be.  Now maybe I hope that my admission will help me to accept what Richard Rohr writes in Everything Belongs:

"The only true perfection available to us is the honest acceptance of our imperfection. If we must have perfection to be happy, we have only two choices.  We can either blind ourselves to our own evil or we can give up in discouragement. But if we put aside perfection, then we can hear the good news with open hearts."

I want to hear the good news.  I want to have an open heart.  I want to accept my own imperfection, so that I can accept yours, too.  This weekend I'll have the privilege of reading my students' spiritual biographies.  I'm sure their stories will reveal a piece of their shadow.  When I told my students I was excited to read their stories and learn more about them, one student said, only half-jokingly, "So you can learn about our weaknesses and use them against us?"

"No," I answered.  "Because sometimes I forget that each of us walks into the room with our own muck and when I know what some of that muck is, I am more likely to treat you with compassion."  Without knowing about the muck, I may take someone's behavior or attitude personally, when it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what he (all my students are male) is going through.  I don't always succeed in the compassion area.  I've failed exponentially before, because I, too, walk in with my muck.

But the muck doesn't have to just be muck.  If we give our muck some time and space, if we accept it and warm it up with our love ("yes, muck, even you deserve love"), much like the heat of the sun does to a compost pile, it could turn into rich soil, fertile ground for new seeds of life.

If we're willing to give some attention to the muck, God will wade in it with us.

If we're willing to walk into the shadow, God helps us work our way back into the light.

God wants us, weeds and wheat (Matthew 13:24-30).

God works in the midst of our swirls and twists and helps to settle the winds and restore balance, the balance of light and darkness.  I know this because in the time I've been writing this, I received an email from a good friend who wrote to me "You are an important part of God's plan for the healing of this world;" I saw a former student who told me how much he had liked my class; and within minutes of that, I saw a former colleague who passed along an affirmation from another former student (such encounters are the beauty of writing in a coffee shop).

I knew none of the above would happen when I began writing. It's as if God is saying, "Yes, you've got shadow, and it's OK that people see it, (isn't it a relief to not hide it?) because, guess what?  They also see your light and, while I wish you knew this on your own, let me throw a few people your way to help you see."

Thanks, God.

I pray that all people receive the affirmation and acceptance I have experienced in this short time.  I pray that I may be a conduit of affirmation and acceptance for others.  I pray that we believe the affirmations and receive the good news of the love we receive with an open heart.

1 comment:

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    Bàn làm việc chân sắt
    Bàn làm việc chân sắt có độ bền cao hơn, khả năng chống xước cao. Bàn làm việc chân sắt có khả năng chịu đựng ẩm ướt, di chuyển nhiều. Bàn làm việc chân sắt hiện đang là sản phẩm yêu thích được nhiều văn phòng lựa chọn.