Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dazzlement and Shadow ::

I choose the term dazzlement to describe this place on the journey because the word connotes the effects of brilliant light and a sense of being charmed or profoundly impressed. Just as shadows are defined by light, so Christ's light reveals the shadow of life. Shadow is the part of us that we do not know nor find acceptable. The origin of the emerging reality of Christ in our life, the shadow holds surprises. As we are distracted by the light above, Christ emerg­es from the shadow below. It is a dawning in the soul; an awaken­ing.

To talk about interior light is to talk about interior darkness. Just as the shadow defines the object illuminated, so the emerg­ing light of Christ demarcates the unknown regions that lie within. The temptation of dazzle­ment is to believe that the light—and darkness—are outside of us rather than within. Extrinsic illumination is powerless to bring about change; real change occurs from the inside out.

Throughout history the sea has been a mythological symbol of this unknown dark region of the soul as well as the beginning place of creation. While we long to ascend to the heights in our quest for knowledge, we rarely descend into the abyss in our explorations. Nothing is so defiant of light as the deep.

The New Testament story of Simon Peter's call provides a rich figure for how dazzlement arises from the shadow. Peter was a fisher­man, a man whose liveli­hood entailed drawing from the depths. There he met the Tour Guide of the Deep.

In the story, Jesus asks Peter to put his boat "out into deep water." Jesus had been teaching from the boat, enlightening the people with his message. Now he would bring something up from the deep, a harvest from the shadow. Peter had fished long hours in the darkness of night. Now he would see his catch in the light of day.

Shadow is a term used by Carl Jung to describe the dark and unconscious side of ourselves, which is not necessarily evil but cut off from our aware­ness. His dreams were haunted by the recurring image of a fish-skinned Bible, which he interpreted as a symbol of the unconscious since fishes are mute and unconscious. Perhaps it is not only the muteness of fishes that portended them as symbols of the shadowy unconscious in Jung’s dreams, but that they dwell in the watery underworld, beneath the surface, much like the unconscious forces in the psyche.

The shadow is what we do not want to know about our­selves, lest we are undone by it. It is what is unknown and unloved. But, it is also the source of creative energies, locked away awaiting libera­tion. Into this shadowy deep Jesus pushed Peter. And, there Christ pushes you so that you may recover the riches from the depths of your soul.

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