by Susan McCaslin
Some Reflections on Chapter 3 of my new book, Arousing the Spirit (Wood Lake Publishing).
In Chapter Three of my book Arousing the Spirit, I argue that Jesus did his “shadow work” just like the rest of us. In fact, making Jesus a perfect being who didn’t need to struggle with all the fears and foibles of being human actually diminishes him. His experience in the wilderness is a symbol of how a period of shadow work is often the necessary prelude to regenerative work, especially if we want our work to have some impact.
For almost a week now, I’ve been living entirely alone in our family home, a home that has been sitting empty while we took up temporary residence in another city. Before leaving, we cut off the phone, Internet, newspaper, and TV.
When I got home, I noticed right away how eerily quiet the place was. At first I enjoyed it. Then I got busy writing. Then I finished up a few projects and took some walks. Then I started to notice how much easier it was to jump into my neglected meditation practice. Then I got lonely but had some rather interesting dreams, and noticed that I hadn’t been remembering my dreams for months.
Then I noticed how many hours I day I had been spending on the Internet answering emails, catching the news, and running around doing errands. It was as if I was falling through layer after layer of my outer self, till all the busy voices telling me to do this and do that stopped.
Then I became afraid of break-ins, and heard creaks and cracks in the house. Then those fears went away and I started noticing blueberry bushes, hidden buds, and crows, instead of buzzing along with my thoughts when taking long walks.
I’m still in the slowing process, but I’m starting to breathe from the belly again. Who knows where this will lead, but I’m not scared or lonely anymore. I’m having an adventure with silence and have checked out of the virtual world for now, except that I seem to have this need to record my week on this blog.
My thought at the end of the week is that each one of us needs to unhook on a regular basis. We need to follow Jesus into the wilderness. There’s nothing wrong with technology, but if we allow it to control us we lose some of our essential humanity. Maybe a rhythm of disconnecting and reconnecting will become a more regular part of my life. Why not?
Susan McCaslin is a prize-winning poet and author of eleven volumes of poetry. Susan is Faculty Emeritus of Douglas College where she taught English and Creative Writing for twenty-three years. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Visit her website at www.susanmccaslin.ca.