Ruminations from the Shadows

I’ve been struggling with some intense sadness and loneliness the last few weeks.  It hit me particularly hard this Sunday morning when I was walking Juno – admiring the beauty of the day while simultaneously saturated in emotional density.  And the words that came out of my mouth surprised me (yes, I talk out loud to myself), and what I said was this: no woman, no amount of activity, no form of intimacy will fill this deep void meant only for God!

I’m sure some of it is the fact that I am less than two weeks away from my 51st birthday, then add in living in a new city, having a new job and then there is the fact that I have been single for over 6 years.  Some of it is reality; some of it is age, and some of it is the depression I have lived with on and off with for four decades.

And some of it is where I am in my recovery.  I started re-working the 12 Steps last year and I have gone deeper than ever before into me, into God and in closeness with my Sponsor.

One of my commitments to my spiritual development and journey is to never judge nor shrink back from the shadowy parts of me, and of life.  As a true-blue Scorpio (the sign of sex, death, and rebirth) and someone with an attraction to mysticism, my experience is that God is to be found just as deeply in the shadows as in the light; that God is found everywhere I choose to embrace the all-pervasive Presence.

Walking into the shadows intentionally can be mind-blowing and emotionally disruptive, just ask anyone who has done a thorough 4th Step and they will tell you).  Walking intentionally into the darkness within can lead to feelings of “Stuckness & Suckness” and lead us deeper into the parts of life where anger, resentment, and fear dwell – places where God’s loving and healing power must touch.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself again.

I am feeling so stuck these days that all I am ‘feeling’ is resentment and anger, which can be quite dangerous for this ragamuffin if left unchecked.  But awareness and honesty are two ways through it for me, and I am quite aware of it and I am ‘sharing’ it.

A few years ago, I had a major spiritual breakthrough (that started as a spiritual breakdown) when I came to know that I no longer wanted to, nor could, be the servant of another person’s dream for that equates to spiritual slavery for me.

In the end, I am the one responsible for my own happiness.

No one else is responsible for it; and no one person can fill the void where I now feel consumed – no act of love, sex, intimacy or material object can “fix” what does not need to be fixed, but rather felt.  I must enter this emptiness, the grand Space that is perfectly suited for God alone, and wait.  Wait. Wait. For what I do not know.  I only know for Whom I must wait.  And I hate it.

But I am neither the victim nor the villain in this story of my life.  I am the only one who is responsible for my happiness and the integrity of my spiritual journey.

I must lean hard on God as I enter this sacred space of emptiness. 

I must allow God the freedom to enter this Space and poke, prod, prune me as needed; to do a new thing, a completely new thing – within and without.  I must once again, surrender my will and life over to the care of a wildly loving God. 

I am fond of saying there are no spiritual victims or villains in my world. I can no longer blame my dead alcoholic father or mom for anything in my life; I can no longer blame society, or my brothers, or even my addictions for my state in this life. I alone am responsible for the choices I have made. God did not force them on me, nor did my family.

In truth, my life is surrounded by immense cracks of light streaming into this shadowy emptiness.  Miracles abound everywhere if I just re-orient my eyes to see differently.

I am blessed.  I am blessed with another day where I wake up sober (and I have been doing for many years now).  I have friends who love me, often despite myself.  I have my life.  I have a 14-year-old dog who, for her age, is healthy and whom I adore, who brings me joy simply by her very existence. I have a cozy apartment with everything I need. I have a reliable, safe car.  I have a little money in the bank.  Indeed, I am blessed.

And this is why I write: I write my way back into hope; I write my way honestly back to the truth of my blessedness.  This writing alone has allowed me to go from bleakness in the beginning to a sense of gratitude by end. I write so I can re-orient my spiritual eyes to see and rejoice in the Creator’s care for the Earth and for me.

I will end with quoting a former co-worker, Brother Francis, who used to annoyingly say to me decades ago, “an attitude of gratitude is what makes life full of miracles.”

So, at this very moment, this divine now, I am grateful for the emptiness that is in itself a Miracle.

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