These verses came to me earlier this week when I was praying without words. I wanted so much to ignore them and keep on drawing nearer to God, but they were so insistent that I had to open my eyes and write down what I was being given:
Today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43; NLT).
Father, While my mind is still,
Please let me rise
To you, in heaven.
While my eyes are closed,
Please let me see
Your shining face.
While my heart is hushed,
Please let me hear
Your wordless sighing.
Threefold God, Though I am dust,
Please let me share
Your peace and grace.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace (Titus 1:4; NLT).
His face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2; NLT).
The Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; RSV).
I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am only dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27; NASB20).
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1; NLT).
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; KJV).
The Rosary Hospital
Yesterday I enjoyed improving two of my own rosaries, which have been awaiting my attention for the last few weeks. I feel much happier about them now.
This prayer came to me yesterday, despite how I’m struggling with migraine and dread at present:
May your will be done (Matthew 6:10; NLT).
May your will be done today, Lord,
In my body, heart and mind;
In my spirit, and my life,
Then all my actions will be kind.
May I call upon your name,
For I am yours, and you are mine.
Fill my thoughts, and words, and deeds,
Till I become your living shrine.
May I know your strength and courage;
Take my hand, for I am blind.
May I trust you, Lord, and share
Your cross today, our souls entwined.
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).
Christ is all that matters, and he livesin all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).
I will put my Spirit in you and make you eager to obey my laws and teachings (Ezekiel 36:27; CEV).
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants – men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth – blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved (Joel 2:28-32; NLT).
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the HolySpirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? (1 Corinthians 6:19; NLT).
The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).
Trust in God, and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).
Today’s blog is about the shadow self. This term encompasses all the aspects of ourselves we find so uncomfortable, shameful and unacceptable that we ignore, conceal, or deny them. However, it is essential to find ways of recognising and expressing these hidden aspects, so we can integrate them into a fuller understanding of ourselves (see “Owning your own shadow” by Robert A. Johnson; Harper One: 1991).
My shadow, for example, includes sin, guilt, shame, selfishness, self-pity, depression, irritability, judging, anxiety, fear, resentment, bitterness, anger, insecurity and feeling unwanted. For a long time, I have habitually taken captive my thoughts and feelings along these lines, saying sorry to God as soon as I become aware of them. I then replace them with something more loving, in accordance with Paul’s teaching (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV). However, until very recently, I have never considered choosing to express them in any other way.
Instead, I generally keep negative feelings and thoughts concealed in my shadow. Unfortunately, this is unhealthy, as these spontaneous aspects of myself are significant aspects of my whole being.
Over the last few weeks I’ve begun to grasp the spiritual importance of maintaining a constant awareness of what is happening in my shadow. This enables me to be more honest with myself, with God, and, potentially, with other people.
Of course, I don’t want to simply “act out” the contents of my shadow through impulsive, uncontrolled behaviour. Rather, I want to be in touch with them, so I can choose how to respond. Moreover, if I decide to express them, I want to do so as safely and constructively as possible, for the sake of both others and myself.
Such expression doesn’t necessarily mean voicing my shadow self directly, though occasionally this may be appropriate. Instead, I choose to express my shadow through dance, writing and prayer. Art, music, sports and many other activities can also provide alternative creative outlets.
It won’t go away
Staying in touch with my shadow self and finding safe ways to express it is essential, because ignoring it does not make it go away. Trying to push challenging emotions such as anger, hatred and fear out of awareness leaves them free to create havoc in the unconscious mind. This is how sudden outbursts of exasperation, temper, violence and panic can seem to strike “out of the blue”.
The Psalms offer a healthy example of honouring the shadow by expressing it honestly in prayer, alongside more positive aspects of the self. The writer of Psalm Three, for example, begins by praising God for helping them in the face of their enemies’ threats. The tone remains positive until verse seven, when it changes dramatically, as the author gives vent to the pent-up fear, anger and vengefulness concealed in their shadow:
“Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!” (Psalm 3:7; NLT).
Once these negative impulses have been fully voiced, the writer is able to finish on a more positive note:
“Victory comes from you, O LORD. May you bless your people” (Psalm 3:8; NLT).
If the writer had sanitised this psalm by omitting the thoughts and emotions hidden in their shadow, it would have been incomplete. This would have made it far less helpful to both themself and their future readers.
Conclusion The raw, spontaneous truths hidden in our shadow are vital aspects of the self, treasures without which we cannot be complete. To reject them means being out of contact with essential aspects of ourselves.
Learning to integrate the contents of our shadow with our more positive thoughts and emotions is therefore vital for authentic spiritual growth and healing. As Johnson states: “These disowned parts are extremely valuable and cannot be disregarded… To honour and accept one’s shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime” (Johnson; ibid, pp ix-x).
So now, after that long introduction, here is today’s prayer:
You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).
Thank you for my shadow –
May I face it,
Acknowledging its role
In all I do.
Thank you for my shadow –
May I own it,
So I can choose
To share it all with you.
Thank you for my shadow –
May I love it,
For you desire my honesty,
Thank you for my shadow –
I embrace it. Lord, may these secret riches
Help me grow.
I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).
Yesterday morning, as I began to pray without words after saying the Lord’s Prayer, today’s blog arrived. I didn’t try to resist, or make it wait, or push it away, though I wanted so much to continue listening, and go deeper:
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; RSV).
In silence, Lord, I listen
To your Spirit’s prayers
In stillness, Lord, I sense you
In my body, heart,
Though I’m alone, I share your sighs,
Your wordless intercessions.
In my darkness, Lord,
Please give me sight,
For I am blind.
In my darkness you are all –
I seek you, Lord,
Seek and you will find (Luke 11:9; NIV).
The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? (1 Corinthians 6:19; NLT).
Pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20; RSV).
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy (Isaiah 35:5-6; NIV).
Yesterday, through a message from a friend (thank you L.), I discovered Wikimedia Commons, giving me access to thousands of new photographs. I’m so grateful for this, and so delighted to begin sharing them with all who visit this website.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…
Are you weary?
Are you burdened?
Come, right now, To Jesus.
Are you grieving?
Are you frightened? He will help you Face each test.
He is humble.
He is gentle.
He is here To comfort you.
Are you weary?
Come to Jesus: He will always
Give you rest.
…Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).
I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20; WNT).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).
The Rosary Hospital
Here is today’s rosary, which I thoroughly enjoyed making:
This little prayer arrived a couple of days ago, just after I’d scribbled down that morning’s first piece of writing in note form:
The life of every living thing isinhishand, and the breath of every human being (Job 12:10; NLT).
While you want us to live, Lord,
When you want us to die, Lord,
May my spirit
Be silent and still,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
The LORD gives both deathandlife (1 Samuel 2:6; NLT).
Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV).
My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done (Matthew 26:42; NLT).
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word (Luke 2:29; KJV).
The Rosary Hospital
Because of headaches, migraines and fatigue it’s been several days since I last made a rosary. So yesterday I was determined to put one together, and here is the result, which just needs a few finishing touches:
Whilst I was slowly waking up yesterday, this prayer came straight to me. I wanted to enjoy being warm and sleepy for a while, but the words were very insistent. It begins and ends with direct quotations from Psalm 139, which I have incorporated into the wording. The full references are below, as always.
Lord, you know everything about me: everything I experience, feel, think, say and do.
You observe all that happens in my body, mind, heart and soul, including everything of which I’m not conscious.
You perceive what I reveal to others, and what I conceal.
You discern all this whether I’m awake, asleep, or dreaming.
Sick or well, you are closer than my heartbeat and my breath.
You hold my life in your hands, loving me, and helping me through all I must face.
Lord, point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).
The life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being (Job 12:10; NLT).
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:24; NLT).
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Luke 10:21; NET).
I praise you, Lord of heaven and earth,
For you renew my strength.
I praise you, Christ, the Counsellor,
For you have made me whole.
I praise you, Spirit, Mighty God, For you restore my life.
I praise you, Threefold Prince of Peace,
For you redeem my soul.
I will praise the Lord at all times (Psalm 34:1; NLT).
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; KJV).
He renews my strength (Psalm 23:3; NLT).
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).
His good favour restores one’s life (Psalm 30:5; NET).
The Lord redeems the soul of his servants (Psalm 34:22; NKJV).