Between Light and Dark
Between Light and Dark
by Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
Many people enter the field of spirituality due to upheavals in their lives. It may be due to illness, loss, grief or some other crisis. Others begin to explore their spirituality when their inner voice or gut feeling propels them to learn more about themselves and in turn reach out to help others. Whether it is external events or internal feelings, the decision to explore our spiritual self is both rewarding and at times trying.
In using the term spirituality, we are referring to the inner feeling of individuals that connects to the higher levels of consciousness in each of us. We are not referring to established religions and hierarchies. However, they too can be important vehicles for many in opening up to the spiritual world. Our reference is to the individual and the soul attraction to more fully experience our existence and the world we live in.
As we begin to experience our higher levels of consciousness we can feel a sense of lightness entering into our private world. This lightness can make us feel more connected to our self and the world around us. As we feel more connected within we become more engaged in our own life. Self direction seems easier to establish and follow through on. Many of us have felt disconnected so often, even when surrounded by others. This renewed sense of engagement and connection to the world reinforces our desire to reach out to help others in capacities we may never have considered before. Bringing our light out into the world increases our collective consciousness. Hopefully one day conflict and war will cease to be the planetary norm, and calm and caring for each other will be the new norm.
Humankind has struggled to integrate a spiritual perspective into our lives for millenniums. This is far from a new phenomenon but is an ongoing search for higher meaning in the human experience. Our connection to the spiritual lifts us up and gives us enhanced meaning in our life. It also provides an increased energy that helps create wellness at both the physical and emotional levels. Spirituality is something we experience. Studying books and texts does not make for a spiritual experience; at most it is a way to gain knowledge but not a lived experience. The experience of accessing our inner light can be life altering and difficult to put into words. It is hard to describe what an inner stillness and calm, and an increased level of energy is, to someone who has not had such an experience.
Venturing into our spiritual self is not all light and joy. In order to move more light into our being-ness we often have to move our darkness out of the way to make room for the light. We will be challenged to look at the very things we may have spent years trying to avoid and hide from others. Often referred to as our shadow, there are many parts of our self that we do not recognize or even like that have been nicely hidden away but are slowly revealed in the presence of light. Those on the spiritual path may discover that they have a sense of anger about their existence, despair for their inability to heal themselves or the human condition and loneliness even in the presence of others. These things highlight much of who we are and struggle with. They will slowly shift as awareness and spiritual experience deepens and acceptance of what we can and cannot change unfolds.
Nelson Mandela said that it is our light that we fear the most, not our darkness, which stops us from being all of our potential. The fear of stepping out and being seen in the light challenges every aspect of who we think we are. However, it is the drive of our light and the understanding of our darkness that helps us and others discover where we want to go. September of this year was the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, a Nobel Laureate and considered by many to be a living Saint. Recently, letters she once wrote were brought to light by her chronicler Father Brian Kolodiejchuk. They show a woman, who in spite of all the work she did for others and her commitment to her avocation in the Catholic Church, struggled daily with her darkness and her inability to feel the presence of God in her life. Yet she moved and helped so many people. The light within her gave her the drive to continue on but her humanness doubted her every move. Her understanding of her own darkness gave her insight into what those she worked with were also experiencing. Her darkness was in many ways her driving light that moved her forward.
Perhaps we are misjudging our self to say this is light and this is dark. The fact is humankind has struggled to be whole and create meaning within our life throughout history. The real fact may be that the struggle is not to distinguish between light and dark but to integrate the spiritual part of our self with our humanness. There is so much shame attributed to being human. It is judged to be wrong to feel lonely, disconnected from others, to crave things and use things that may be unhealthy. Often it is somehow misinterpreted that the spiritual journey is to rise above being human and become god-like. Perhaps that is why one of the reasons spirituality scares many people is at some level they feel they are not quite ready for the god role. Besides, being human can be a lot of fun.
What may need to happen is to see ourselves as humans connecting to a higher vibratory level that makes our life more enjoyable but does not shame and condemn the very essence of our humanness. It is not wrong to be human, but it would be nice if we each shone a bit more of our spiritual essence out into the world and helped one another locally and globally. The absolute essence of spirituality is to create meaning for our self and those around us. Once we reach in to connect to our spirituality it is a very simple step to reach outwards to be of service to others. Even if we are only human!