my soul in silence waits- day 5 – enemies

Day 5 – enemies

‘Take time to identify some of your inner enemy voices. How do they divert you from exercising your gifts? How might you diminish their pervasive power?”

Enemy is not a word that comes easily to me, but this is a question that begs honesty- an honesty that is not about denying the Light at the center of my being, not about negating the Hope that I am, but about being willing to embrace its shadow, without shame.  My ‘enemy’, the darkness I refuse to name or claim, the ‘all is not at all well’ that swims, as a shark to a dolphin, within the deeper All is Well of the Ocean.

Is it true that all light casts a shadow? I think not. I can image even now a sundrenched sky above a sparkling lake, no clouds to cast shadows from above, no obstructions below. So, it is not the light that creates the shadow, but its obstruction. Yes?

So what are the obstructions in me that block the channel of light – filling me and flowing from me—to distort or dim it.  Are these shadows cast by things outside of myself- an external enemy actually offending, those literal ‘wrongs’- or are they shadows of my own creation, such as when I allow myself to be manipulated by the fear that is mongered about into creating monsters, or conversely being complicit in their proliferation by refusing to look them in the eye. Is it the fear and outrage then that is the monster among and within us? Or is it blindness?

I wonder why it can be so difficult to discern the truth? The beast of our times, apocalyptic forecasts of doom, are like the monsters of ancient texts, aided and abetted by the speed of technological viral contagions. 24 hour newsfeeds in a world grown smaller, where the small thing on the screen grows gargantuan in our fearful minds, make it difficult to keep a human sized perspective, let alone step back into a soul sized one.

On the other hand, being exposed like this, has offered a broader lens to see just how much we are conditioned to believe in the ‘truths’ we are fed without examination. Examination of the enemy often reveals him to be much smaller than the shadow he casts. Or what I thought was a monster was a friend, a falsehood proves to be a truth. Sadly, sometimes the converse is also true.

And so, we are caught spinning in circles of uncertainty. Is it possible to simply stand there within it? Right in the midst of the uncertainty (how close is uncertainty to mystery, I wonder?), in the midst of the fog, waiting for it to lift, for in the fog there are no shadows, after all (or is it all shadow there?) There is not black or white, but many shades of gray.

The problem is that it can also be hard to see the source of light within the fog. Again, it is diffuse—though not necessarily in a pervasive way but in a muted one. There are times that I simply want to know what is true. I want certainty. Shades of gray, as seen by one who sees through eyes of empathy and understanding, can make it difficult to be certain what is right and who is wrong. I have felt paralyzed within that fog, at times in my life, not knowing which way to even lean, let alone walk, when each perspective is understood.

And yet certainty of one’s rightness often grows into a monster too, a monster unable to see the harm it does, the trampling and disregard. (is ‘rightness’ then the enemy?) And so, the best, I think that I can do today is to acknowledge, with humility and grace, that I cannot see from my human perspective, and to be willing to accept/dwell in that cloud of unknowing.  That can feel a powerless and lost place to be, for there is an energy concentrated (as opposed to being diluted) in a ‘right’ stance, which can feel both passionate and stabilizing, dynamic and grounding. There is quite a bit more potential fear in uncertainty.

Sometimes I fear standing on the wrong side, here in the middle. I fear the shadow side of Hope may be apathy, for the ability to see Good in All ‘sides’, to trust that ‘All is well’, to perceive with understanding and empathy can lead to indecision and inertia.  And yet, it is said that “God is a circle whose center is everywhere”

For far too long, I have allowed the shame of standing in the center to overcome me, like an enemy. I have allowed my loving gaze to be labeled as blindness or naivitee, my ability to hold it all as weakness, let the shadows of those judgments diminish my light…..

Finally, I am asked about forgiveness- forgiveness of those who have done harm (to me) , and forgiveness of self. “What does forgiveness mean?’ My first response is ‘Where there is understanding, what is there to forgive?’ Yet, even with understanding the source of it, there is still pain. Betrayal and hurt feel real because we are broken off from a place that felt certain and secure. Of course, at times betrayal arises from my own assumptions of ‘rightness’, does it not? My expectations of what ‘should’ be, my inability to see from the other’s perspective. What’s black is also white.  Betrayals of trust are another matter, and feel so very obviously like an enemy that harms, and yet… how often are those understandings seemingly broken because we truly misunderstand. Communication is such a flawed human construct, and human need is so very lovable.

Oh it is all so very vague, a struggle to express, and sometimes I despise the relativism of it all and I long for a moral code of law upon which to stand. The problem, of course, is Love.

And so, I am left to Act with Love – and then to let go of perfection. Otherwise, no action at all will ever be taken at all, and I am struck immobile by the enemy, which is fear of choosing the wrong action, the wrong answer, the wrong side. Regret is a painful, shadow-filled, place to stand. Of course, regret is devoid of compassion- self-compassion, that is- and forgiveness, love and grace. Regret is indeed perhaps the enemy of each of these. Regret is the enemy held prisoner within the soul that must be released if freedom to Love is to be.

And so perhaps that is my answer. That is where I stand in certainty. That is where the fog lifts, where the light infiltrates without obstruction, and a clear path opens across the water. I stand in self-compassion, self-forgiveness, love and grace.

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