Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Seeing our Shadow on Candlemas

It is the middle of winter and all eyes are fixed on the ground hog. Will he see his shadow? It is also the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord commemorating the time Mary brought Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him as her first born and to purify herself. (Luke 2:22-40)

This day is often called Candlemas as it was once a time when the faithful brought their household candles to the priest for a blessing as a reminder that in the dark days of winter when candles were not taken for granted we should not take the true light of Christ for granted as He is the One who lightens our darkness. But more people on this cold winter day are wondering how much longer winter will be. Will the ground hog see his shadow?

We, too, have a shadow. It is that part of our soul we deny. More often than not, we see our shadow in others before we see it in ourselves. We call this projection. Christianity is not just a historical religion about a good man who did miracles and died on a cross. It is about Jesus in the here and now transforming our soul. He lightens our darkness. He helps us to see our shadow, that log in our eye that blinds us, so that we are grounded before we can ever attempt to remove what is only a speck in someone else's eye! Part of our interior journey as Christians is to love that part of ourselves we hate, our shadow.

How often have we heard someone criticize another with the words, "He's afraid of his own shadow."? There is some truth in being afraid of our own shadow. If we do not let Christ shine His light on our shadow, we will be in danger of letting that dark part of ourselves come out in unhealthy ways. Christ wants us to see what our loving Father sees. Only in this way can we be reconciled with all parts of ourselves. Our nighttime dreams often play this drama out!

By getting in touch with those parts of our soul we find unseemly, we can best let Jesus use us for His Kingdom. Christian social activists will point to Matthew 25:31-46 as a command from our Lord to serve the poor and incarcerated. There is no command in this text, only judgement! We are told by the King what we have already done or not done. By getting in touch with the parts of ourselves that we fear, the beggar, the criminal, the pathetic, can we see what Jesus already sees. It is only in this way can we see ourselves in others to be of any service to them. As we move toward wholeness, we can help others do the same. Jesus' light shines in our darkness. When we do not see the light, we may well ask Christ, "But, when did we see you naked, lonely, thirsty or in prison?"

Let Jesus shine the light on our shadow. When we do this, more often than not, someone won't be able to get our goat!

For more on the Shadow in psychology, go here http://psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_is_the_shadow