Sunday, April 17, 2016
We've just returned from our trip to northwest Arkansas to see Judy's mother and visit with her family. Our son, Grant, went with us so we were able to drive all the way home yesterday, eleven hours. Throughout the trip Bobby kept saying, "I'm not tired. I can travel a long ways." He is very proud of this desire, which is often not true. When he was getting ready for bed last night, he fell off the side of the bed as he attempted to put on his pajamas. I picked him up and put him on the side of the bed. When he lifted a leg to insert into his pajamas, he slide off the bed again. He was so tired and weak that he was unable to get himself up. So, a second time, I lifted him onto the bed, but this time I held on as he put on his pajamas all the while he was saying, "I'm not tired. I can travel a long ways." He got into his pajamas and was immediately asleep until almost noon this morning. When he got up this morning, he said, "I can travel a long ways and not be tired." This is what Carl Jung, the Swiss Psychiatrist, would call one of Bobby's "shadows." The shadow contains those parts of ourselves that we refuse to recognize and/or won't admit. Bobby loves to travel but can't recognize or admit that he gets tired. Often our strengths also contain our shadows. I may have the gifts of hospitality, but don't want to admit that I get weary of having people around all the time. The "shadows" can be related to our gifts or strengths. We,also, often project our "shadows" onto others. Who aggravated you? Who do you admire? Are these persons exhibiting characteristics which are within your own shadow, except you don't want to admit that they are there? What traits of yourself are you reluctant to recognize and fear they might someday become public? Jung said that the religious process is about restoring the wholeness of the personality. "To own one's shadow is to reach a holy place--the inner center--not attainable in any other way. To fail this is to fail one's own sainthood and to miss the purpose of life." (Robert Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow, pg. 17). This stuff about "shadows" sounds a lot like Paul's writing about our two natures toward the end of the 7th chapter of Romans. "Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." That's good religion. By the way, Bobby didn't slide off the bed this morning as he was dressing.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
One of those books to which I return frequently is Balancing Heaven and Earth by Robert Johnson and Jerry Ruhl. This is the "story" of Robert Johnson's life and the amazing coincidences that he has experienced. He calls those coincidences, "the slender threads." Toward the end of the book, Johnson reflects, "If you can live in the paradox long enough, then a transformation takes place and a new consciousness is born.... This occurs when one has stopped trying to maneuver external reality so that it will work out as the ego desires. One turns authority over to something greater than oneself; the, ego is sacrificed to the Self, the earthly world serves the heavenly world, and one learns, at last, to trust the slender threads." Some of my greatest experiences have happened when I relaxed my determined efforts to control what was happening in order to make events happen as I wanted and, instead, trusted that God was at work and my task was to relax into His care. Trusting "the slender threads" that weave life together is not as easy discipline. It is, however, what I call faith.