Embracing Internal Contradictions

We are such complicated creatures, replete with hypocrisies, contradictions, dishonesties…and virtues! Add them all up and we are reduced to mere be-ing. We simply are. We have the gift of life and have that gift for just a brief moment. Yes, it often appears to be merely a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing” but even the author of that pithy observation (Shakespeare) reflects in the whole of his writing that our paltry efforts reflect value, quality.

The clinical term for this myriad of contradictions is “ambivalence.” Learning to acknowledge and even experience the torment of this ambivalence is one of the most critical lessons in life. It is always so tempting to not take this spiritual adventure and cling to the dogmas of our youth. But we yield to this temptation at the peril of our own soul.

Someone said…and it might have been Karl Jung…that one step toward maturity is when we can learn to tolerate in our heart these ambivalences, to embrace the presence of impulses and presences that are mutually exclusive. Read the following poem by May Sarton:

The Angels And The Furies

Have you not wounded yourself
And battered those you love
By sudden motions of evil
Black rage in the blood
When the soul premier danseur
Springs towards a murderous fall ?
The furies possess you.

Have you not surprised yourself
Sometimes by sudden motions
Or intimations of goodness
When the soul premier danseur
Perfectly poised
Could shower blessings
With a graceful turn of the head ?
The angels are there.

The angels, the furies
Are never far away
While we dance, we dance,
Trying to keep a balance,
To be perfectly human
(Not perfect, never perfect,
Never an end to growth and peril),
Able to bless and forgive
This is what is asked of us.

It is the light that matters,
The light of understanding.
Who has ever reached it
Who has not met the furies again and again:
Who has reached it without
Those sudden acts of grace?

(This poem was shared weeks ago on the blog by Blue Eyed Ennis.)


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