When I was a boy I had a dream. I remember it well (even though I was only four). In this dream I saw myself in white clothes like the kind Indiana Jones would wear. There was an essence of glowing light around me. I was climbing a mountain to get a treasure, or to get to the top. While I was half-way up the mountain I saw a doppelganger of myself. He was wearing black clothes with a cape, on the inside of the cape it was red. He was already at the top of the mountain, and there was an essence of blackness and evil about him. In my young mind he won, as did all that he stood for.
At that time, I thought that bad people had power. When I got mad as a kid I felt like I could draw from that type of power. I didn’t like how it made me feel though… so I vowed in my heart not to be evil, for I feared becoming what I called — when I was younger — “Evil Aaron”.
I realize now that that dream was more of a message than anything. It was a dream that encapsulated my developing understanding of good and evil. Though no one taught me the concept at the time, I already knew that there was a dark component to my psyche. Call it a presence, a realm, or whatever. It is the Shadow, and I am not alone.
In spite of all humanity dealing with the Shadow since the time we came into being — I feel that it is the least properly understood part of us. I never liked it being in my dreams or my imagination as a child. When I was young I liked to think that I was a hero, and I certainly had my fair share of superhero boy fantasies. Yet… though that never ceased to be true, I was often tempted to go into the Shadow for shelter from the hurt I felt very often as a child. I needn’t go deep into the details of that pain, or the causes thereof, but it will suffice to say that it was intense; if I didn’t have the quiet voice of the Spirit speaking to me early on — I don’t think I would have turned out as well as I did.
The shadow component of our psyches was spoken about extensively by Carl Jung. He spoke about integrating the shadow with the conscious ego, and that this was to be a life long process. In his method of Analytical Psychology — this was an important step into becoming a more balanced, and integrated person. To him, even the shadow of ourselves had some positive things that could be learned from it.
It is true that you can learn things about yourself from the Shadow; however, one must not merely stitch it into their lives without understanding it in the light of the Holy Spirit. I wouldn’t even say that it is good to stitch it in at all. Rather, it is better to be aware of it; accept that we have dark (unknown, grey) aspects to ourselves, and yield it to the Light Bringer within to tame its primal, and often visceral drives. To me, the Spirit is the source of the Day, and in that Day is refreshment for a weary soul.
I also feel that the Shadow isn’t necessarily evil in and of itself. To me, it is the gray area between what we are “sure” about, in regards to our character, and what we know we DON’T know. No doubt all the things we know are wrong are hidden in there, along with the knowledge of what triggers us to desire the “chains” of concern in order to pursue victory and power; without regard for morality and the effects that such actions would have on other people.
Though there may be a form of self-care in the Shadow — it is careless in how it goes about its caring. It doesn’t think about how its actions affect the world. It only cares about meeting the need or the desire in whatever way will bring the most immediate solution. Quite selfish.
Also, there may be strength in the Shadow, and effectiveness in meeting the desires therein it, but in comparison — its ability isn’t anywhere close to the power of the Day. The Day being the part of Us that is willing to be open, receptive, and vulnerable to the voice of Kindness that says “it will be okay.” It isn’t the end of the silver cord if you run out of Shadow to hide your pain in.
The Shadow is the only place in our heads (or whatnot) that we can pretend to be All-Powerful in the midst of our limits, weaknesses, and flaws. It is usually the only place we can become a dictator and destroy our enemies utterly, painfully, and dramatically. Yes, a few on earth have had this become an actual reality for them, and no matter whom they destroyed, as long as they thought that they were ridding themselves of opposition — in order to keep on going; to keep on having a purpose — there always had to be just ONE MORE enemy to rid themselves of.
As they continued in their instability (and destabilized society in the process), so we too destabilize ourselves by continuing to draw strength and broken comfort from our Shadow. You are made stronger as a person in understanding your Shadow, but only in the wisdom and temperance of the Lord. One is NEVER made whole, or strong over time by having the beasts in the Shadow dictate their actions, and having them set the compass for their lives.
God, though being great in power, does not impose his will by iron on the heart of humanity — collectively and individually. It is by the invitation of his grace, and the warmth of his goodness that we relent our hate, and our Shadow to Him. Surrendering completely, or with careful thought to the fulfilling nature of his Love. If only we, even I… would allow more of his presence to change me. How the world; its cities; its towns, and its families would be different. I can at present only imagine.
As long as I live I know I will have to deal with my own Shadow, sometimes more often; sometimes less, but I am getting better at letting the Spirit speak and impart Her Forgiveness to me, and letting the Son, and the Father give hopeful counsel to my heart. I can say this at most — I go to that Shadow where Hell resides in much less than I used too. Besides, the Day and its warmth is more becoming to happiness and serene peace, than are the ghouls of hate and despair droning their songs of damnation and vindication.
I pray that as you peek into the Day you will abide in it, and learn to leave the caverns of old hurt, turmoil, and darkness. Forsaking the Shadow in doing so… as you come into God’s given for all. The Shadow is shallow. God’s Day is deep. No reason to embrace the Shadow’s sleep.