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.
The Longing to Mature
Many years ago, I had an inner urge to work with youth in prison. Soon after, I 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, I was determined to meet something dark and unknown in myself. The teens 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 teens to be intelligent, discerning and highly competitive. They were on high alert to every 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 teen 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 becoming frightened. At the time I was only wanting to see the good side of life. I was having trouble seeing the living, breathing teens around my art table in the darkness of their hurt and pain.
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 teens had vicious mean streaks and began to demean others in the group. One teen stole my ink pens. I got a call from my supervisor the day after class, and she told me that several teens 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, refusing to paint again. As the darkness tried to destroy the good - compulsively, over and over - 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 emotionally strong enough to hold inner integration in the midst of outer chaos.
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 told them I was leaving.
The night of my last class, I left swallowing my tears. 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.
Despite my misgivings, my summer "jail kids" art program was considered a great success. I was asked to continue on, but I could not quite completely meet everything within myself to stay. Back then, my unhealed emotional pain held more authority than my will to hold the light.
The Strength of Spiritual Vision
At the time, I did not have the strength to face and "revision" the darkness within myself. 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. My own unhealed inner teen was triggered. I felt unsafe.
I thought I could negate the "dark" side of life by turning a blind eye and walking away from it - 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 growth task was to continually see my outer experience as a reflection of my inner world.
It is has been over ten years since I spent time with the "jail kids." Since then, I have discovered much about how we become "arrested in time" wherever the loss of love and belonging is unresolved. And, since my time with the "jail kids" I have done a lot of emotional work to heal my own hurt "inner teen."
It has taken tremendous love to heal my own teen traumas around the loss of acceptance, belonging and my challenges with being authentically expressive of my feminine power in the world. It is in these firm, loving interactions with the darkness inside of ourselves that transformation happens. This is how we mature.
Strengthening Love 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 lighter 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.