Twenty-six years ago, the dark night of my soul met me like a ferocious panther. There, I entered the unknown to face myself. Curiously, as I accepted all of me, the universe became more benevolent, as well.

Traditions, communities, families, and counseling frequently point out what is wrong with us. How will we respond? 

If we cope or comply, we may appease people, making situations work. Or, if we mine our shadows for the treasures within them, we live into the belief that there is a future beyond acquiescing, guilt, shame, etc.

Authenticity is not easy, for incrementally we let go of everything but our truer selves. Along with our personas, people, places and unnecessary doing will also fall away. At first, it can be terribly lonely.

Rather than the quick sense of power we get from winning petty battles, we move toward a mature trust in the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. Nature models interdependence through the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The Christian tradition teaches it, also.

Jesus was a failure in his short time on earth, yet still the Passion story encourages followers to the power of humility and love. The idea of following Jesus through death is what stops most Christians short of transformation.

The words, “He died for us,” will draw a crowd on Easter, but teach that Jesus showed us how to die small deaths daily, so a truer Self might resurrect, and watch the numbers dwindle. Then observe the dark projections thrown across anyone who dares to be other.

We can stay stuck in confession, allow our attention to be diverted by every grand and measurable purpose or trust the subtle workings of Mystery. When we look at the hidden parts of ourselves, we awaken to the harm we can do, but also the immeasurable good.

Entering the unknown to release who we think we are, and who other people want us to be, alters our perspectives. Like facing Panther in a dream, our fears and prejudices are not nearly so frightening, once we’ve allowed them to transform us.

Making Spirit Flesh*

Name a negative experience in your past. Now, consider a bright spot in the painting, Panther, as a wormhole that is leading you to a similar circumstance in the future. This time, picture yourself responding from your truest Self (love), regardless of the other person’s reaction. How does it feel? What is the invitation?