“After spending so much energy avoiding the appearance of failure, it will take a major paradigm shift in consciousness to integrate our shadow. Just know that it is the false self that is sad and humbled by shadow work, because its game is over. The True Self, ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3) is incapable of being humiliated. It only grows from such insight.” -Richard Rohr They’ve been fighting them for millennia, ever since the invasion, when those shadow-like figures first came up from the ground, from their world into ours. Their intention: corruption and chaos. I have never met a man or woman without a shadow. It seems that each person has a sort of shadow-self. Still, there are other shadows—magnificent, looming shadows that stretch across the sky, hanging over their domain, sometimes corrupting hundreds or thousands or millions at a time. I call them shadow systems. There is one man, however, who they say has no shadow. They say he conquered it. I guess that's why he is king of the land, revered by all—well, revered by many. Even those who despise him technically revere him, for most of them are on a reckless pursuit to attain what he attained—wealth, pleasure, influence, recognition, significance—thinking these things can help them to conquer their shadows, too. My goodness, our exhaustion might exterminate us before the shadow systems do! Sometimes I wonder if they are one in the same. I have seen men strive and perform themselves into their graves trying to fight their shadows. Some of them actually do a pretty good job of hiding them. And then, oddly enough, the sun shines down on their tombstones and casts shadows over their graves. As for me, I do not revere the king. Or anyone on a desperate search to conquer his shadow. A mighty conquest always seems to get people’s attention; and everyone, really, just wants to be important. But not me. I mean, sometimes I do. But when I'm healthy I don't. When I'm healthy, I can see the shadow systems for what they are. When I'm healthy, I'm compelled to live a life of simplicity. Less striving. Less performing. More abiding. More resting. And so, in the meantime, I think I’ll just remain here on the hillside, tending my flock and caring for my land, dancing with my shadow during the day—intimately getting to know it—and leaving it outside at night—always keeping my boundaries. To make peace with my shadow—to befriend it, to integrate it—is to keep it from becoming all of me. That's okay. I never wanted to be king anyway. By Stephen Copeland
This story was first published on copelandwrites.com.