Saturday, January 29, 2011

Befriending the dark thinness

I have been really moved this week reading a book I picked up purely for fun, Frankenstein's Monster.

CONFESSION: I am a fan of old horror movies, like Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein. Not the current-day slashers, but the ones that push us to explore or own inhumanity by questioning the humanity of those called other.

It's really shadow, that we all carry, rather than inhumanity. I have always been intrigued by the idea of shadow and have come to  understand that as the parts of ourselves unexplored, unassimilated, misunderstood, untended and unexposed. They are not necessarily parts to judge, but rather parts to integrate if we seek wholeness.

It occurs to me that my delight in shadow may have been triggered by a very early experience that I always felt wounded me: being told as a preschooler in Sunday school, no less, that my heart was black with sin. I instantly knew that was not the truth though I was in no position developmentally or cognitively to contradict the lesson or trusted authority figure. Perhaps the teacher was merely projecting her misunderstood shadow.

So this past of mine got caught up in the story of a being created from dead humans who had no say in his origin being rejected and hunted over and over. He has violent tendencies, yet prizes purloined books and brief encounters of kindness. He learns to live in the shadows because of the misery exposure surely brings. He has many more parts to assimilate than most and one begins to wonder what residual the parts of assorted others that form him can be quelled, let alone balanced.

It's as if Victor Hartmann is an opposite: his first breath emanates from the shadows and his lifelong struggle is to shine the light completely on himself. And he does, shaking loose others' expectations of his monstrousness and setting the intention to live as a man.

Victor finds his light. The question for us becomes, can we discover our shadow?

• When do I first recall my own shadow side?
• How have I explored or played with that?
• How do I reconcile myself to that darker side?
• What riches have I discovered there?
• What lessons?

so very easy to
sweep it all into the shadows

and not bother with it

the parts that annoy, disgust or provoke fear
the unknown self that seems to lurk
always there, though thinly

what if I befriend that dark thinness?
calling it into the light
exploring, knowing, perhaps, even loving

what then?


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