Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Shadow Eruption at the Dark Time of Year

December 18, 2014

“There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: and hid that shall not be known,” Jesus is reported as saying in the Gospel of St. Matthew. This can be a scary reality. We cherish our right to privacy and the ability to wear masks over hidden parts of our personality, over thoughts or feelings not ready to be shown in public.

The news of hackers breaking into Sony’s private e-mails exchanged among employees, revealing things never intended to be public, and the recent exposure of CIA files detailing torture methods used to interrogate prisoners after 9/11 may be reminding us of this potent principle. In private as well as public events I have been observing that what was in the dark seems to be coming to light, for worse and for better. Something is stirring collectively. It is interesting to me that this seems to be peaking now at this darkest time of year, the season when we have long celebrated the birth of Light.

C.G. Jung famously used the term “shadow” for the hidden parts of the self, those we are unaware of and unconsciously work to repress in order to think of ourselves as acceptable to family, culture and community. He developed methods for discovery of these repressed parts as they tend to show up as symptoms and neuroses unless they can be faced and integrated. It is difficult inner work, but healing work that leads to greater personal power, contentment and wholeness.

In the wake of recent events it appears that we are called to find ways to do the work of confronting and integrating shadow parts of our collective identity. We need to do this in order to recover and work together as a global community. Edward Snowden and others have shown us that our idea of privacy is a luxury that we simply don’t have. We are seen, tracked and known whether we like it or not — not just by government but also by a universal mind. I believe we have to get used to it as it is bound to dog us in some form or another.

As with all important work, it begins with individuals mustering courage to do their personal work, one by one. We cannot project the problem outward, thinking we can fix it “out there” before we address it internally, in our own psychic life. Facing parts of ourselves we have tried so hard to keep hidden, feeling the sting of revelations as stuff pops out of our mouth or light comes into shadow, taking responsibility rather than justifying or covering it over, this is the tough assignment of working with shadow.

I was reading last night a story about Vladimir Putin, saying that he may inhibit the economic health of his whole nation by being “utterly unable to admit mistakes.” It looks to me like the former head of the CIA as well as former Vice-President Dick Cheney demonstrate the same affliction as they deny and defend the torture revealed. But what does this mirror to us as individuals? That is the question. What is our own capacity for such admissions? There is the rub. It begins with us.

In my own reflections I begin to understand that the capability for self-honesty begins with the capacity for forgiveness, self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others. If we cannot forgive, we cannot bear the responsibility required for doing the work.

May the coming of Light this year be the birth of new wisdom and strengths, individually and collectively, as we face the challenges presented. Denial extends and compounds our problem. I see my own capacity to patch and deny, and my own unwillingness to forgive, and I see where to dig in and start helping.


March 30, 2013

The archetypal themes of the spring equinox and Easter season are several and powerful. New life, hope and possibility after the cold death and darkness of winter, miracles of resurrection, dark nights of the soul followed by transformation and grace — messages that profoundly encourage and inspire us.

For me this year, the theme that has been a stand out in my reflection is that of forgiveness. Religious persecution is another.

In the Christian story, Jesus is taken not by lousy thieves and bandits, but by the admired and respected authorities of religion and state. Shockingly it seems we have not evolved from there in these 2,000 years. Intolerance goes on and on in all manner of human affairs. Why can’t we get it? I so wish we could get it. Even if a person doesn’t have a particular religion or politics, the tendency of an individual to have his or her own personal Way, the lens through which they see the world, and to resist those who seem to threaten it is no different from any manner of religious persecution. Everyone can benefit by sober reflection on this, I believe.

The pivotal moment in the drama of the capture, torture and crucifixion of Jesus seems to be when he asked for forgiveness for those who were involved in his death. He understood that they really didn’t get it, and he didn’t want them to suffer because of it.

Last night, Good Friday night, thoughts of this came over me like a storm and a weight. I had been watching the news and piddling around when suddenly I found myself unable to do anything but turn off all of the lights, fire up a bunch of candles and sit solemnly in the dark with my altar. I have not forgiven. I know I have not forgiven. Do I even want to forgive? Sometimes it seems like forgiveness is a naive collusion or denial, a failure to stand for something. I know real forgiveness is not that, so how can I find this in me? How does one accomplish that? It doesn’t happen just by saying you want it.

As I reflected, suddenly it became painfully clear to me that the person I need to forgive is myself. This is where it begins and that could make the rest of it easy. The many ways I have failed myself, disappointed myself, judged, criticized, betrayed or lied to myself — these awarenesses came in clearly and baldly. I have joined with some super-ego authority that prescribes what I could or should have done by now, how disciplined I should be, and on and on. It is a failure  in tolerance. The people in my life that I thought I had to forgive, that I still know I have to forgive, hold a pale specter compared to this issue.

Now I see it a little more clearly; many thanks to guides, angels and powers who support the journey for helping me to see. Still, how does it happen? In this self-forgiveness work, just like any other, we don’t want to be in naive collusion or denial about what is to be forgiven. It seems important to stand for something. Figuring this out won’t happen just because by wanting it to, it will be a journey. A journey toward love and tolerance. I accept the task.

Forgiveness begins at home, they say. It goes out from there. It will take over the world I suppose when we start with where the calling truly begins.