Shadows and Light

by Gilles Côté


We are too readily tempted to reject the shadowy side of our lives. However, trying to root out with violence the negative side of life can only destroy the very life we seek. Rejection of limitiations and weaknesses is a rejection of self. These negative realities are not just things that are external to us. They are part of the fabric of who we are.

There is a pivot that allows us to live both of these poles, the shadowy and the luminous, without denying either one. That pivot is love, "the epiphany of God in our poverty". (Merton) It is what allows us to find peace "in the heart of anguish". God's love refuses to reject any part of who I am. Jesus entered into my experience of suffering, shadows, and death. He conquered them from within. He did not distance himself from the negative dimension of life; he fully assumed it. His resurrection has meaning only in reference to his passion and death, just as his suffering and death are meaningful only in the light of his resurrection.

God invites me to trust in that love that encompasses both my negative and my positive side. He invites me to hope that I can come to him as I am and to recognize that it "is not perfection that matters but trying to give oneself totally, with all the defects and the successes." (Merton) Then, love turns lead into gold, death into resurrection. Accepting to face our weaknesses and limitations is accepting to let the stone be rolled back from our tombs. It is much more difficult then to ignore the death that lies within, but it also opens us up so that we can hear the call to "come out" and live.

Maybe that's partly what Paul meant when he wrote: "My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness." 

 1 Co 12:9