Addicted to Unhooking

Each one of us needs to unhook on a regular basis

Photo © Jess Wiberg/iStockPhoto

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

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Categories: Christian Life, Spiritual Growth, Susan McCaslin


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7 Comments on “Addicted to Unhooking”

  1. Leslie Timmins
    February 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    I love the details of your unwinding and getting used again to being quiet and uninterrupted. Just reading it gives me respite. I am noticing when I go to a weekly meditation group, being with others who are focusing on their breath in silence together greatly enhances the quieting of my mind and body and spirit, too. It is a sacred feeling of connection sometimes, and compassion grows from it. As you say the “hidden buds and crows” emerge from the ‘wilderness’ to call your attention— and sometimes kindred souls do too.

  2. February 23, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    Thanks for your thoughts, Leslie. I think more and more people are learning how to release into silence. It’s about a balance and being effective in the world. The spiritual traditions have much to teach us.

  3. David Scott Hamilton
    February 28, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Susan, it is precisely because I fear losing touch with my–and others’–essential humanity that I unhook every day by refusing to carry “mobile” devices. When I take my twice, sometimes thrice, daily walks up and down Commercial Drive to clear my head after working on this machine, my ears are awash in conversations and the beautiful sonorities of the external world … I also make it a habit to drop in for a coffee at Joe’s where I will invariably shake someone’s hand and exchange a smile… This is my way of confirming that I continue to exist in the real world, that I continue to have value as a human being in the eyes of those who share this village with me…

  4. February 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    You sure were put on Notice! What a sacred time, once being scared dissolved… I love emerging from the two dimensions of computor to the four dimensions around us… And here I am in contradiction, writing you, dear friend!

  5. Jennifer McCaslin
    February 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Sorry about all those phone calls when you were trying to get off the grid and “think in silence” Most jobs, school, occupations,etc require us to be hooked on noise all the time.

  6. February 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Thanks David and Penn, for reflections on the virtues of embodiment.

  7. James Clarke
    March 1, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Susan; I just finished your book. Not only is it visually striking and beautifully designed but I was astonished by the scope of its contents from the shadow to peace to resisters etc. I was particulary taken with the sections: THE PARADISE EAR , OPENING TO MYSTERY , I AM, AND RAPTUROUS RAVISHMENTS.The interspersed poems added to the allure of the book and heightend your message. DEAR CLOWN OF GOD AND PRESCENCE OF POSSIBLITIES , stand out. I also liked the personal allusions including your dreams and mystic visions ( which by the way you explained in down-to-earth fashion) as well your referencs to your mentor Olga Park. You’ve honoured her memory. Your main theme : the unfolding of the ” Christ” consciousness or the ” spirit life” in all of us resonated throughout. A brave and original book in an age of scepticism and despair! I’m not a theolgian but as a lenten meditation I found it a thoughtful, inspiring and hopeful and I believe many others will too. Bravo! Susan, I don’t have your address or phone number; could you send me them .

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