Becoming Whole

On one of my earliest trips to the Berkshires, while perusing a shop with the woman who would later become my mother-in-law, I picked up this framed quote as a gift for my lover, capturing the carefreeness he embodied, which was in welcome contrast to the burden of responsibility I’d begun carrying at a young age.

33 years later, this passage comes to mind again, and I retrieve the dusty print from the basement, realizing that it was my own carefreeness that I was after then, just as he was after his own capacity.

This brings to mind what lingers from my last time assisting author/scientist/mystic Joan Borysenko at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Healing, who in her program “Spirituality, Neuroscience & Narrative” speaks to the way, particularly in the latter part of life, we’re drawn to gather and integrate the loose threads from our own story.

I think of this as I hang the print on my office wall and turn toward the day’s reading in Joan’s tiny book, “Pocketful of Miracles,” struck by the serendipity–how her words intertwine with my thoughts this morning–as I look out at the monochrome world blanketed in snow, longing for spring’s rebirth, inside.

The poet Robert Bly refers to Jung’s shadow as a long bag we drag behind us containing all the discarded parts of ourselves that parents, teachers, peers, clergy or society told us weren’t good enough. Bly says, ‘We spend our life until we’re 20 deciding what parts of ourselves to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.’ It takes courage to re-own our lost parts, but authentic spirituality requires that we make the shadow visible and that we make that which is divided whole.