“And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul…”
-Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven)
“If you don’t deal with your shadows, you are condemned to repeat the same mistakesover and over, as a human being, or as a society.”
So, you have suffered injustice and from these wounds shadows sprung from the hidden depths of your soul. Oh, how you have tried to outrun them.
You have witnessed injustice being perpetrated against the innocent. In anger and angst you have tried to hunt these shadow makers down, to eradicate them, change them, legislate them, reform them.
But let’s be honest along the way you began to cast shadows yourself. Maybe this has been a type of hypnotism, where you just unconsciously follow the pattern of the dancing darkness around you.
“It’s normal. What do you expect? After all I’m only human.” You repeat the mantras that you have heard since the day you were born.
Or maybe casting shadows is just your way of trying to spit out the poison which you have been poisoned with?
In my life, what has hurt me worse than being hurt, or watching others hurt others, is the thought of those I have hurt. Most often, I ended up hurting the ones I loved the most. Shadows were cast on me, and then I cast shadows on others.
“Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24
When we speak of shadows we often speak of that which is hidden from view. The darkest of human shadows are cast in the home, in schools, and in churches. Places where innocence is supposed to find refuge, nurturing, safety, and protection. We expect that a parent, a teacher, or a priest, are the ones who will love us, guide us, and protect us. They are supposed to be the ones we can trust. Yet, far too often this trust is violated. Even the most well-meaning parents will pass on unconscious shadows, thinking all along that they are helping their children. Abusive behavior cloaked in the name of love.
And so from the sacred temples of home, school, and church, shadows are planted and echo out into the world. Hurting people hurt people. Bullies beget more bullies. From nurseries, to playgrounds, to workplaces, and on to the highest positions of power on the earth! Even those who come from safe loving homes begin to be wounded by a culture of violence, rudeness, name calling, and mockery. If the best in us is made fun of, we begin to hide it away and the world is robbed of the most precious aspects of the human character. Which are patience, kindness, compassion, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, humility, and integrity, to name a few.
So how may we be delivered from this unending tyranny of shadow-making, fleeing, and fighting? One of the first turns in the road is when we discover we have a choice. Yes, you can think, speak, or act as a conditioned reaction to all the shadows we have seen, heard, felt, or experienced. But we must remember that shadows are only possible when light is obstructed. So though we can make a choices as an extension of darkness, we can also make a choices as an extension of light.
You can say “But I can’t help it!” but that won’t help. As Victor Frankl said in “Man’s search for meaning” the last human freedom is the ability to choose how one will respond in any circumstance.
Did you know it is possible to meet every moment with love? I am not saying it easy, just that it is possible. I will agree that when one has had a life buried under a mountain of shadows and injustices it is daunting and paralyzing at first. But one can make their way into the light by following the guiding light of the heart, one choice at a time. One by one the shadows are illuminated and fall away….
“Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
-Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven)