Although it is true that we are “the image of God and walk in his likeness” as some theologians say, paradoxically, we find in ourselves dark areas that make it difficult for us to recognise this “luminous” side of ourselves and to show it to others. Because we all harbour in our most secret basements wild, creeping, megalomaniacal and egotistical fantasies and, moreover, we struggle to keep them from being known. If they were ever to become public, they would reveal shameful things: envy, hatred, complexes, pettiness, baseness, our emotional and sexual obsessions. If known, such things would plunge us into the deepest humiliation.
Here is a wise saying that we should not discard: You are only as sick as your most morbid secret! This is a very intelligent axiom, which we must understand in a positive way. What is sick in us will remain sick unless… we bring it out into the open! As long as it remains a secret, it will continue to make us sick. Perhaps the problem is not what we keep secret, but the very fact of keeping it hidden or perhaps denied. That only makes it ferment and emit its poisonous gases through vents that pollute the air we breathe.
For all these internal agitations we can also thank God. The image and likeness of God in us is not simply a beautiful icon engraved on our souls. It is fire, divine, insatiable, bewildering light that knows how to make the most of our dark spaces.
That’s what it’s all about: our shadow! Our shadow is that dark and frightening inner place we are afraid to go to, a wilderness we would never risk entering, inner demons we knowingly want to avoid.
Even if we fear our own shadows, they are by no means absolutely dark. On the contrary. Let us observe that every shadow is produced because there is light. Darkness does not make shadows. That is why, as Nelson Mandela rightly said in an inaugural address: “It is our light, not our shadow, that frightens us“. For a healthy person, their darkness reveals other realities that project light and energy: their infinite longings and the divine life that inhabits every human being. When we bring our shadows closer to that light, we see that we are not so wicked or so sick. The sickness lies only in not bringing them into the light, not bringing them out, not verbalising them… Because hard ice only melts when exposed to the warm rays of the sun.
Juan Carlos cmf
(PHOTO: Dewang Gupta)