Accepting Our Wholeness: Both Dark and Light

Accepting Our Wholeness-Both the Light and the Dark

Mark 1:40-45 The Message (MSG)

4″0 A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”

41-45 Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.”

“It is very difficult for each of us to believe Christ’s words, “I did  not come to call the virtuous, but sinners..” Perhaps no psychologist has stressed the need for self-acceptance as the way to self-realization so much as Carl Jung. For Jung, self-realization meant the integration  of the shadow. It is the growing ability to allow the dark side of our personality to enter into our awareness and thus prevent a one-sided life in which only that is presentable to the outside world is considered as a real part of ourselves.  To come to an inner unity, totality, and wholeness, every part of our self should be accepted and integrated. Christ represents the light in us. But Christ was crucified between two murderers and we cannot deny them, and certainty not the murderers who live in us.” Henry Nouwen

In the time of Jesus leprosy was not just one disease, but was any scaling, of the skin, acne would have been considered leprosy. People who touched those with “leprosy” were considered law breakers, usually pushed to edges of society. Jesus broke the law. He demonstrated that love and care broke the boundaries of the leprosy of his time.

We have forms of  leprosy in our society which separate us from people, for we all have the goodness of God with in us, the ability to love our neighbor, but we let the “law” separate us, laws that we make to protect ourselves.

Two forms of leprosy are privilege and survivors guilt.

We are all entitled to housing and health care, but our streets are filled with people suffering from no housing and health care. Those of us who are Caucasian are very privilege.  It is difficult for us to go beyond that privilege because when we do so we feel guilty, and we question why we can have what we have and others can not, so we put up our walls. This past year each day I would go to Kaiser I felt guilty because every one I know on the streets do not have that “privilege,” sometimes it was difficult to look them in the eyes; people who get off the street have trouble seeing their friends on the street again because of guilt over that privilege.

Survivor’s guilt is a common problem for those who survive disaster, illness, and other forms of death dealing disasters. I have known men who survived the AID’S CRISIS of the 80’s who have let that guilt incapacitate them in their relationships and all of their lives–they live in the past, feeling guilt; I experience survivor’s guilt–surviving the streets, surviving vocationally, surviving attempts on my life. 

Both of these can separate us from caring from our neighbors who are different from us, but the reality is we are no different, we all  suffer, we hurt, and struggle, it is just some of us have been more privileged by the color of our skin, intelligence, or just plain luck, to live more comfortable lives. And we fear we may lose that privilege so we have difficulty looking the “others” in their faces. A person who became homeless recently told me how her friends have turned their backs  away her.  We are afraid that we too may go that way. We live in the fear that we may become one of the “other’, we may get leprosy.

Only in accepting our dark side, as one of our two halves, can we truly come to healing, and to loving our fellow human beings and all of creation. Dr. Will Tuttle summarizes it in this way:

“Love brings freedom, joy, power, grace, peace, and the blessed fulfillment of selfless service. Our true nature is calling us to awaken our capacity for love, which is understanding.”

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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