Honoring the Dark

In Owning Your Own Shadow Robert A. Johnson examines the Jungian concept of how shadow exists in all of us, and that there is a balance we need to maintain between the light and the dark, creation and destruction, up and down, female parts of ourselves (anima) and male parts of ourselves (animus) and all the polarities of existence. The point of honoring the shadow is to keep it from erupting and destroying our lives. In so explaining this balance Johnson makes a most interesting observation about the incorporation of this concept in the Catholic Mass: "The Catholic Mass is a masterpiece of balancing our cultural life. If one has the courage to see, the Mass is full of the darkest things: there is incest, betrayal, rejection, torture, death - and worse. All this leads to revelation but not until the dark side has been portrayed as vividly as possible. If one went to Mass in high consciousness one would tremble at the awfulness of it - and be redeemed by its balancing effect. The Mass lost much of its effectiveness when it was modernized and made to serve the cultural process. One ought to be pale with terror at the Mass."

I admit that I am a modern. A kneeling Rite IIer. But as a journalism major turned lawyer I have spent a lifetime trying to get clearly and concisely from point A to point B and have made a career out of eliminating legaleze (legal disease). To that end I am somewhat uncomfortable humbly beseeching and am downright offended at saying that I am not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. I don't mind if you like that language; I just don't. I admit that I have gotten myself in hot water with a number of Rite Iers who want me to observe the beauty of the language and learn some humility.

Still, Johnson's point is well taken. I think that we gloss over so much of our shadows at church, we have to honor our shadows elsewhere. I think that Sam Shoemaker, the Episcopal priest instrumental in the creation of AA said it best in What the Church has to Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Johnson indicates that after the balancing effect of the Mass was eliminated "we rely on less effective ways of balancing today. Horror movies, gangster epics, violence, the fashion of something garish or shocking in our headlines, the popularity of murder mysteries - all of these compensate for our high productivity and creativity. But these are clumsy elements compared to the fine works of art of earlier cultures."

The photograph above honors the dark and oddly served to examine my shadow's fascination with this image of what looks like a monster - actually a cicada - perched on the head of the blessed Mother Mary statue who stands guard at the entrance of my garden. Read about the symbolism of the cicada, to include its Christian symbolism and enjoy the irony of this image captured by my shadow at The Sacred and the Profane.

Joy in God's Creation

For Joy in God's Creation

"O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through who all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

From the Book of Common Prayer, page 814

Nature's Child

"Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And holds our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies."

Words by John O'Donohue in
To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

Image: Nature's Child by
Barbara Desrosiers


"... home of memory where
Our vanished days secretly gather,
Receiving every glance, word, and act
That fall from presence,
Taking all our unfolding in,
So that nothing is lost or forgotten."

Words by John O'Donohue,in
To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

Photograph by The Rev. Scott Fisher,
St. Matthew's, Fairbanks, Alaska

Minding The Gap

Image/altar frontal by Tracy Byrne of Changing Attitude
All Rights Reserved

News from our friends at Integrity and Changing Attitude from Lambeth 2008. Thanks to Katie Sherrod for the following thoughts:

For one brief tiny second, I think there was a rainbow over the green field where the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist took place this afternoon before a crowd of 160 people, including 33 bishops. The Canterbury Cathedral loomed dramatically over the trees beyond the altar.

It was a cool blustery mostly sunny afternoon interrupted occasionally by brief light showers of rain. As the second shower was passing, the sun came out, creating a rainbow just as I glanced up. I grabbed my photographer's arm, but it was gone before I could get words out.

Did I imagine it? Was it wishful thinking?

It seemed much too apt to be true, that tiny glimpse of color, so I'm assuming I imagined it. One often feels that way in the Anglican Communion – thinking one has glimpsed some hope only to find it was aan illusion.

But this afternoon, there was one genuine icon of hope for LGBT folks, and that was Bishop Gene Robinson, striding across the road from St. Stephens encircled by a small group of bishops come to stand in solidarity with him at the service....continued at Walking With Integrity blog.

Posted by Jan Neal; content by Katie Sherrod; image by Tracy Byrne