Yesterday in our worship service we explored Maurice Sendak’s wonderful children’s story Where the Wild Things Are. This story is an empowering, psychologically astute parable about a child learning that his anger, while sometimes overwhelming and scary, can be safely expressed and eventually managed.
Max, the young boy in the story, goes on a journey through his imagination after his mother calls him a wild thing and sends him to bed without his supper. He travels to the land where the wild things are and discovers a way to engage with the images and energies that play in the shadows of his own awareness.
Watch: Where the Wild Things Are
One of the easiest ways to discover our shadow is to observe our negative reactions to others and what pushes our buttons. Most often, what annoys us in someone else is a trait in ourselves that we haven’t acknowledged or denied or are not even conscious of.
Jesus had a simple wisdom teaching for the denied shadow. “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus preceded modern psychology’s shadow work by two thousand years. His advice is absolutely perfect: “Take the log out of your own eye”, and then you will see clearly enough to help remove the speck out of your neighbour’s eye”.
Thanks to all those who have shared their love of this wonderful story and their own journey with shadow and light. During my reflection yesterday I shared a childhood experience that created some personal inner trauma within me. I was blessed to have someone reach out to me when I was clearly struggling with the impact of this experience and the shadow it surfaced within. If this story and/or reflection surfaced memories or difficult experiences that you have had, I encourage you to reach out to tell your story with someone you trust. If you don’t feel you have anyone to talk with feel free to reach out to me or any member of the Hillhurst team.
Carl Jung once wrote, “the shadow becomes hostile only when it is ignored or misunderstood.” Together we can support each other to grow in awareness of the wild things that will always be with us. As teacher Ram Dass likes to say, “We are all just walking each other home.”
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Listen to the sermon audio.