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