SHADOWS: Part Two
“Stop running from shadows, chasing shadows, and casting shadows. Come before the sacred light of the heart, and all shadows will be vanquished.”
“You say you want a revolution, well you know we all want to change the world. But if you go carrying pictures of people with minds that hate, All I can tell you brother is you’ll have to wait!
The Bible says that man was made in the image of God? For me as a child this was a very scary proposition. Oh the images that flickered across my young mind.
In houses of worship there were images of a man beaten, tortured, scourged, gored with a spear, and crucified, hanging dead and bleeding from a cross. I asked my Mom what this man did to deserve this horrible death. “He taught people about love, loved them, and asked them to love one another.” She said in hushed tones of reverence. Wow, welcome to planet earth, little one.
This theme continued throughout my youth as I watched John F, Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and a group of students at Kent State gunned down on American streets.
As a boy I stood with my hand across my heart, “….one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all!” Oh how I wanted to believe. These were words, but I saw images of black Americans being attacked by dogs, fire hoses, angry mobs, white hooded figures in front of burning crosses, and worst of all Billie Holiday’s “strange fruit” ….young black men dangling from trees, their bodies blowing in the wind. Yeah a picture is worth a thousand words.
I soon saw images of the Holocaust, the aftermath of Hiroshima (complete with mathematical calculations as to why it was a good thing) I saw hippies carrying signs that said “Make Love Not War” I was told this was bad. I saw pictures of naked children, their bodies burning with napalm in Vietnam. This I was told was good or necessary for the establishment of freedom…
“Ball of confusion that’s what the world is today, hey, hey…” The Temptations sang in the back ground. As a boy, I was so confused.
It was hard for me to believe that man was created in the image of God. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know this God. I was told the story of how God offered his innocent Son to pay for the sins of a guilty humanity. So even the heavens and God were unjust! “Why should the innocent have to suffer for the guilty?” I felt I landed on the wrong planet and wanted to get off.
If you couple the injustices that were done to me personally with the injustices I saw in the world around me. I felt trapped. In a world that gave lip service to the light, I was surrounded by darkness. A bonfire of anger was growing in my heart. This anger soon turned to hatred. I justified it as a noble hatred. To make the world a better place I would destroy the evil in the world. This was easier than addressing the seed of destruction that was multiplying within me. I began chasing shadows.
At first I engaged in non-violent protest. I marched across America for “dis-armament and social justice.” When things didn’t change fast enough I became convinced that violence was the only way to transform the world. I started hating my enemies and whoever appeared in the scopes of my perception of injustice. I wanted to destroy them. My enemies list grew to include those who weren’t active enough in the cause or the struggle as I defined it. I dreamed of dying in a hail of bullets, like my heroes. But thank God, I ended up in a jail cell. Thank God, I never hurt anyone. I looked within and saw that this “revolution” and the hatred it inspired was killing me.
I became aware that when we see the enemy outside of ourselves, we begin to take on the characteristics of the thing we hate. This is the story of Plato’s cave. This is the story of human history. We end up dancing to the shadows on the wall until our whole life is consumed by them. One revolution after another consumes its oppressor only to become the new oppressor. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” –The Who. How much injustice has been perpetrated in the name of justice? That day I left prison forever and went looking for a revolution of the heart.
I found my teacher and a new life. I began to walk a long road to recovery. For many years I was motivated by the need to “change the world” and still judged other people for not doing enough or the right thing. All of this did not change until I had a direct encounter with God, the God of love, who showered me in love and light, and asked me to change the world by sharing this love… “Will this really change the world?” I asked. “Yours is not to keep score.” was the answer, “Just build and create community on the foundation of love?” You see, what is needed is a Re-Love-ution, not a revolution. In other words the one thing we haven’t honestly tried yet.
After all that…… injustice is still alive and well in the world. I see it. I care. Each and every day I do what I can. Because I am a part of this Universe, a part of this earth, a part of humanity. I understand that as a part of it all……. all I can do is my part, without hate, without judgement, one day at a time, one act of love at a time.
Whatever it is each of us do to make our world a better place. I pray we never abandon love. For when love is lost all is lost.
In the mean time I do what I can to shine a light… but I don’t chase shadows anymore!