The Dark is Me, Too

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I don’t know when or where or how or from whom I learned not to look at the dark side of myself.  It’s not like I don’t have a dark side.  I have plenty of dark side.  And I don’t mean that I  learned to pretend that I didn’t have a dark side.  I knew I had a dark side; I simply learned not to look at it.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I managed not to look at someone who had spoken unjustly to me.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I both recognized and avoided the person I was embarrassed or ashamed to talk to.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I haven’t looked at some of the buskers near the subway stairs.  I know they are there; I hear them; I see them.  I just don’t have the time and money to spare, right now.  Nope, not right now.

And my dark side, let me clarify.  I’m not talking about illegal activities or heinous omissions of ethical behavior.  It’s pretending that I am listening when I am really forming a judgment about why you should be listening to me.  It’s believing I am calm and peaceful and forgiving while I am in an all-out brawl with anger and resentment, refusing to acknowledge their presence and throwing them out the back door of the “I’m So Good” Club hoping no one else ever saw them come into the place.  My dark side is the place where I know I could see (if I took a good hard look) the full reality of my brokenness, my humanness,  and my incompleteness.  My dark side is the part of me that is me, the part of me I wish weren’t me, that I was hoping would somehow change, disappear, or mature if only I could put enough distance between us.

And here’s what caught me, the question of attention.  Would it be okay to give my dark side a thorough gaze?  Or would this serve to fuel the darkness residing therein?  If I looked at the darkness, would I be swallowed up within it, rendering me incapable of ever leaning out toward the light again?

“But,” I sang to my Self, “attention need not be laced with shame nor approval.  Attention may be clarifying while gentle, humble yet accountable.”

May the light of my eyes, cast a luminescent glow, one encompassing net, about my dark side.  May the gift of a sacred attention irradiate what I have been unwilling to fully acknowledge.  May I learn to love my darkness, for that is me, too; and may the Light which has never been overcome by darkness be my guide.

***

What have you learned about yourself and God when you turned your attention to your darkness?

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013

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5 thoughts on “The Dark is Me, Too

  1. I don’t like the dark side concept/reality. I find that it is not dark as much as it’s just not as exposed, visible, illuminated as all that I’m more comfortable allowing to be exposed, visible & illuminated. We try to create the limited exposure. I believe old man Adam & his bride, Eve, discovered that there was nothing that could be hidden in darkness. Sure, it was dim under the bushes where they hid, but it wasn’t darkness. There’s not a dark side, just one that we’ve allowed to be poorly illuminated by the brightness of His love. It’s in the shadows of our creation….
    not His. We just have trouble learning that the real and only healing is in the Light….His Light.

    • I hope you know that if you keep writing beautiful comments like this you are going to have come up with a guest blog post to take the pressure off me! Thank you for the idea of “limited exposure” — so true. As for the dark side – yes, the metaphor has its limits but I think it’s true that, especially in my early years, I incorporated the understanding that part of me was “dark” and therefore unacceptable and repugnant to God. I am learning (slowly, I admit) that God doesn’t look at me and pick & choose the parts of me to love. And, it’s people like you who have helped to teach me that God loves and Lights the whole of me, of all of us.

      And, I’m serious about the post thing… 🙂 See you soon!

      • No matter how hard we try to think that we are keeping the ‘dark’ side of us hidden from view, there are no secrets from God. We may try to keep secrets from folks around us, but of course, God knows all about us, our shadows and our light, and loves every part of us. Does this help to keep the God-pressure on us to reform the shadowy bits?
        Likewise, we can have a hard time justifying the difficult times and difficult people in God’s perfect world. I think of a grandchild, secure in grandma’s love, only to discover that grandma loves the cousin grandchildren as well. It is a learning curve for the child to go from the neck wrenching ‘WHAT?’ to arrive at the place where we are all family together. Loved.
        So we see the beggar at the subway and walk by. Perhaps for a moment thanking God for OUR blessings. Then, we learn to anticipate the encounter by having a coin, a sandwich, and a kind word ready for our cousins in God.

      • So, true, Liz. I think sometimes the reason we haven’t taken a good look at the less perfect, more undesirable places within us, is because we don’t want to see any similarity between “us” and “them.”

      • There comes a time when some of our strivings cease and we realize we ARE them. The tempted. The fallen. The poor in spirit. The broken. Our halo of holiness has time to mellow and tarnish just a little bit.
        With time I have found that the view from the bottom of the barrel opens us to a clearer vision of focused light and we look with God to see ourselves as we really are. Whole and imperfect.
        I do not think that this moment comes too often when we are at the top of our game, but when we are somewhat removed from it. At a new turning point or during a transition when we take stock of ourselves. Or when we retire and look back.
        Now how lucky are you to know this while you are still at the top of your game. You are turning into quite the beautiful butterfly. Looking forward to your next blog, Rev. Amy!

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