Embracing the Shadow


How does part of the world leave you?
How does wetness leave the world?

Don’t try to put out fire by throwing on
more fire!  Don’t wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run, your shadow
keeps up.  Sometimes it’s in front!

Only full overhead sun diminishes your shadow.
But that shadow has been serving you.

What hurts blesses you.  Darkness is
your candle.  Your boundaries are your quest.

I could explain this, but it will break the
glass cover on your heart, and there’s no
fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

When from that tree feathers and wings sprout on you,
be quieter than a dove.  Don’t even open you mouth for
even a coo. 

I have often felt frustrated when trying to take a photo with the sun  shining behind me and getting my shadow in the frame.  I laugh now because it is such a beautiful metaphor for running from my shadow.  I spent many years storing the things I didn’t like about myself, and the things I feared (my shadow self) hidden away in the basement of my mind.  With age comes wisdom and I now know the truth of what Joseph Campbell (my hero) says, The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.   

If you bring forth what is within you, what you
bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring
forth what is within you, what you do not
bring forth will destroy you.

I think it’s also important to bring forth all the creativity and talent that lays dormant inside ourselves.   It can be just as scary to shine the light on our brilliance as it is to shine the light on our shadow.  I leave you with another tidbit of wisdom, this time from the Danish philosopher and theologian Kirkegaard:  The most common form of despair is not being who you are.

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2 Responses to Embracing the Shadow

  1. Whew! That covers a lot of territory and I like the challenge of exploring it all! The Rumi poem is so moving, especially for these times. And then comes JC, I was thinking Joseph Campbell but just realized it covers the third wise man you mentioned. All together, you’ve assembled a wild and wonderful gift of wisdom!

    • suellen1234 says:

      My JC (Joseph Campbell) has always been an inspiration to me, but then the prophet, Jesus, and the poet, Rumi have been sharing their wisdom for a long time…. and a Danish philosopher gives us nourishing food for thought.

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