Friday, the 13th day of November, 2015. Revelers gathered in various venues around the world to fly in the face of fate and scoff at bad fortune, to celebrate in ways considered evil by some. On this night Paris was attacked in what appeared to be a coordinated effort of ISIS terrorists. We joined in online shows of solidarity with the French people. We raged and we mourned and were bewildered, and soon we were shown we weren’t doing it right.
Enter people shouting about racism wondering why cries were not raised for Bagdad and Beirut, others telling us not to hate, that only light drives away darkness, posting quotes of the late Martin Luther King. Then rush in the secular people telling people no thanks for prayers because religion caused this.
There is a difference between inspiration and compassion. There is a time for light, and there is a time for shadow. And these seasons of light and shadow in our lives rarely come in as orderly a fashion as the Wheel of the Year. When it comes to shadow as dark as innocence cut down by the most hideous means imaginable, harmless people enjoying entertainment, food, and sport, caught off guard by explosions and rapid, relentless and deadly gunfire … bursting into this darkness with the halogen light of spiritual superiority and misplaced judgment is profane.
We need to summon the courage to abide with the shadow that will inevitably follow crises as horrific as these. People who have collected the pulverized remains — if there are any to be collected — of their beloved dead are feeling very real rage and hate and the inexorable retch of grief. People close to them are feeling bewildered and helpless. Communities are attempting to resume their activities in streets punctuated with armed police and soldiers.
Sunday we learned that one of the suicide bombers made it into France with a wave of Syrian refugees. Now the refugees face new shadows. Already assaulted with the sights and sounds of brutal gunfire, beheadings, and body desecrations of their loved ones, friends and community leaders … having lost, some of them, children to the seas they crossed, family members and friends lost to exhaustion … these people face rejection in lands in which they sought hope.
We must summon the courage to face the shadow. We must light dim candles and abide with them while they feel and express their rage and hate and grief. We must have reverent compassion. Nobody is more superior than another in their Ways at times like this. Sometimes we have to look at our own lack of understanding or fear and walk away in silence and out of respect, acknowledging our helplessness.
But we won’t learn, know or understand until we face our own shadows. What fears cause us to race into the chaos to tell others they’re wrong? This stain will not fade in human history any time soon.
A season of light will return, and in the glare of that light there will be plenty of blame to go around. Innocents will die in the explosions of France’s bombs. As much light as we try to summon to blame or explain, there is always unexplored shadow with its own kind of stark illumination, if you will summon the courage … and compassion … to examine.
Nous sommes Paris.
About our guest: Debi Rose Abeille is a solitary hedgewitch and Reiki master/teacher.