We’ve been studying ancient mythologies this year in our homeschool. It’s been fascinating to see all the threads that cross over cultures and histories: creation stories, flood and drought stories, hero’s journeys and the contrasting forces of darkness and light. We’ve just planted down into ancient Persia with a tale of Ahura-Mazda and Ahriman. Ahura-Mazda is the god of light, warmth, wholesomeness and truth. Ahriman is the lord of darkness, cold, deceit and evil. A polarizing theme present in every good story.
As we talked about what light and dark represented, I asked my older guys if there wasn’t some grey area in between. Did they think cold and dark were evils that light and warmth needed to push away? In some cases yes, but we also discussed the importance of the dark-the necessity of shadow to bring life and meaning to the light.
By the way, philosophizing with ten and seven year olds? Possibly my favourite part of homeschooling.
With the return of spring it’s a timely contemplation, one I often need to revisit. The death and re-birth cycle of the seasons, of ourselves and our creativity is important to accept. Whatever the current struggle, we need to hold onto the promise that the darkness is preparing us for the light that is always ahead.
In creative life, there are times of expansion- days, weeks, possibly months when we feel on fire, our lives blazing forward. And there are those other times…when we feel like we’ve entered the deep dark woods on a moonless night. When every root along the path makes us stumble. When there is barely an ember of drive stoking our creative fire, when it all feels like a memory we can barely recall.
For me, there are times when the “darkness” is the next step. The fine tuning, the editing, getting work out into the world. This is another state of creativity entirely. The free abandon of the creative process is over. Now there is this rosy-cheeked heap at my feet, exhausted and happy, ready to pass the baton. This is the part where I often stall. The part that feels cold and hard.
After hanging out for awhile in the sunny stage with ears plugged and eyes closed to natural balance, I’ve accumulated drafts that need that extra stretch in the woods to see them over to the next patch of light. So as we enter into a new season of longer days and warm sun, I’ll bow to the lengths of shadow that show up across green fields and twinkly lakes. I’ll take their strength along with me knowing I can’t create anything whole without them.
How about you? Where are you embracing shadow in your life?