The Solar Eclipse: Delving into our Shadows

August 28, 2017

By Sister Agnes Brennan

The eclipse approaching totality. Credit: Bonnie Brockmeyer, Mercy Investment Services.

Last Monday thousands upon thousands of people were focused on the solar eclipse as it tracked a path across the United States. Across the country people were buying the correct glasses and positioning themselves in order to see as much of the eclipse as possible. Some commentators called this cosmic event a moment of unity. Some remarked about nature’s ability to reorient us, to view ourselves from a grander perspective and to bring us into a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness. Spiritual writers spoke about the moment as an invitation to delve into our own shadows—those scary places within us that we have repressed because we are unable to name and bring them into the light of consciousness.

As I viewed images of the eclipse, two lines from Scripture came to my mind: “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5) and “even the darkness will not be dark to God; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to God” (Psalm 139:12).

When I reflected on my own “shadow” in connection to what the solar eclipse portrayed I came to a deep understanding of how my darkness is held in God’s light, which is pure, unconditional love. Even at the totality phase of the eclipse, the light encircled the dark. It seemed as if the darkness was being held in a womb of light. How precious we are. How deeply and completely we in our totality, our darkness and our light, are embraced by Love.

Eclipse at totality, viewed in St. Louis, Missouri. Credit: Bonnie Brockmeyer, Mercy Investment Services.

These thoughts led me to think about the many, many petitions (they seem to multiply daily) requesting my signature. I am learning to make careful decisions about what to sign or not to sign—I do not sign any petition that lays blame at another’s door or any petition that labels or demeans another person. Recently I was asked to sign onto a statement which asked our leaders to condemn racism and bigotry. This caused me to pause and consider that in an interconnected world, I am all that I see both within me and outside of me. Actually, inside and outside are the same. No division, no separation. Racism and bigotry are part of my shadow. If God holds this shadow aspect of me with such unconditional love, then how can I even think of condemning any part of me? No, I believe that if I am to love as God loves, then I need to hold racism and all other “isms” with love and allow the light of love to transform my darkness into light. This shadow work is akin to lighting one candle at a time. Only then can healing come—a healing not just for me but for our world.

It seems to me that if we are to be peacemakers, then we need to consciously develop a language of peace and love. For the most part our vocabulary has been acquired from a society for whom violence and competition are a way of life. We use words derived from a world immersed in one war after another, a world whose institutions—government, entertainment, education and even religion—are immersed in competition.

Those who viewed the solar eclipse used such words as: Wow! Awesome! Unity! Totality! How small we are! Humble!

Perhaps that is a good enough place to begin to develop a new vocabulary!

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