Perhaps it's how we hide from our light. It's like a teeter totter that moves back and forth, up and down, until the reordering is complete.
But in order to complete the process, we need to relax into areas of imbalance, darkness and trauma in our lives. We have to see it as a natural part of our evolution - an essential step of maturing into a whole new being where oneness is fully integrated.
And to do so we need to reconcile all those diverging paths and all those seeming difficulties that make us believe we are not enough, we are not whole, or we are not loved by God."
At a time when I was struggling to reconcile the light and the dark inside of myself and in my life, I made this collage. In the collage an older woman held a spiritual maturity that I was longing for.
Her powerful stance implied to me that she had seen and accepted many things. She appeared to meet the darkness with strength and higher vision. She did not pretend to see only the good and ignore that darkness existed. I imagined, in her sweeping hand gestures, that she was strong enough to accept the dark and vision it into the light.
Many years ago, I had an inner urge to work with youth in prison. Soon after got a position in a summer art program for teens, age 13-17 in a correctional institution. I remember feeling terrified when I first started, yet determined to meet something dark and unknown in myself. The kids I taught were skeptical of me at first. They asked, "Why do you want to be with us jail kids?"
Secretly, I wanted to believe that I could bring out the good in everyone. Not allowed to know anything about their crimes, I found myself easily seeing the best in them at first, and we flourished as a group for a while. I was enthusiastic about thinking up new art challenges for them each week.
They inspired me to reach for meaningful classes and challenging creative ideas. I found the kids to be intelligent, discerning and highly competitive. They were on high alert to every signal and nuance of danger or inconsistency. They were honest in their creativity.
As the summer went on, some darkness was revealed. I found out that my favorite kid had raped a girl, and my stomach sank when I overheard that a benign looking boy had brutally beaten and killed a service station attendant. I found myself getting frightened. At the time I was only wanting to see the good side of life. I was having trouble seeing the living, breathing kids around my art table, in the darkness of their hurt and pain.
Denial is Darkness
I wanted to deny that there was violence in the world. I wanted to deny that kids get thrown down the stairs by their drunken parents, and that many children get harmed emotionally and physically on a daily basis. As I grew more frightened, things started going amiss. A few kids had vicious mean streaks, and began to demean others in the group. One kid stole my ink pens. I got a call from my supervisor the day after class, and she told me that several boys had given themselves new tattoos with my art supplies.
One week someone had cruelly covered up the all of our painted canvases with white paint. The rest of the group became defeated and demoralized and refused to paint again. It was as though the darkness had to destroy the good - compulsively, over and over and I began to feel despair.
In emotional pain, they sought to hurt each other, and I began to grow weary of my summer teaching post. Something in me felt irreversibly sad. I was not yet strong enough to hold onto my vision for the good. So when my three month post was over I said my good-byes. The kids in the group looked both defeated and nonchalant when I said told them I was leaving.
The night of my last class, I left swallowing my tears. I wanted it to feel so much better. I wished I could have made a larger impact. I felt strangely hollow and confused as I drove home. The night sky felt as dark as it had ever been, and the stars hurt my eyes. I felt shocked into silence, not knowing what I had just experienced. And just as I rounded the corner to my house, I sucked in my breath. Standing on the sidewalk was a black cat and a white cat touching noses. I shivered deep into my bones.
My summer "jail kids" art program was considered a success, and I was asked to continue on, but I could not quite completely meet everything within myself to stay. I would have had to stand for the good, and know the power and vision of love with more authority than I was capable of at the time.
Strength of Spiritual Vision
At the time, I did not have the strength to face and "revision" the darkness within myself and others. I was too afraid of my own suppressed emotions that threatened to take me over. My doubt in universal basic goodness ate away at my light. I still wanted to believe that my light could shine if I focused only on the positive.
I thought I could negate the "ugly" side of life by turning a blind eye and walking away from it - by pretending it did not exist. I did not yet trust the deeper workings of the dark and the light. I did not understand that part of my divine task was to continually see the possible good behind all negative appearances.
Love and truth is always stronger than the dark, but it has to stand up with a strong presence. Love has to "revision" the negativity sees into a higher possibility. Love has to take action, and sometimes love has to say "no". It is in these firm, loving interactions with the darkness of the shadow, the unexamined, and the avoided, that transformation happens. Spiritual writer F. Aster Barnwell describes this communication and interaction like this:
"Just as we use one hand to wash the other without being afraid that the soiled hand will dirty the clean, the transformational process in its collective scope is facilitated when the good and bad interact. The spiritually developed must become catalysts to help those of lesser understanding to evolve.
Actually the extent to which we separate people into good and bad categories is an indication of our need for further spiritual development. It is not that morality is not important; but if we have sufficient understanding, we would see that although individuals may act inappropriately in many situations of life, most only want the best for themselves. It is in seeing this good that people want for themselves that enables us to find bad people good."
Strengthening Higher Vision in the Midst of Fear
- When you feel afraid, bless the negativity that you encounter. Bless everyone and everything. Bless yourself.
- Never accept any limitations as permanent or unchangeable.
- See negative events and behaviors as a temporary mistake based on limited understanding.
- Always look beyond negative conditions, and envision a more light and love filled possibility.
- Take the next step towards your higher goals - even if you feel fear or discouragement.
- In every negative situation, always reach for a higher spiritual understanding.
Excerpted from the E-Course - 30 Days of Authentic Self-Expression
In order to live full, authentic lives we must express all of our feelings, "positive" and "negative" alike, as they all hold important messages for growth. This course will inspire you to look deeper into the outer "collage" of your life to understand what inner patterns of thought and emotion are creating your experiences.