Does anyone remember Dark Shadows, a daytime TV show that aired from 1966 to 1971? It was a standard soap opera—except that its main character was a vampire and the plots involved ghosts, werewolves, witches, and monsters. It’s become a cult classic, and I believe a movie version is on its way May of 2012, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.
I mention this because the teenager in my house has reminded me more than once that Halloween is a few days away. She and I will dress up as something, put a costume on Buddy the dog (whom the neighborhood kids adore), and go up and down our block. I’m not a big fan of this holiday, but the sheer endurance of its popularity intrigues me. There’s something about darkness, shadow, fear, and mystery that tugs us from a very deep place. Being the spiritual geek that I am, of course I interpret society’s love for Halloween as an indication of our interior wrestling with the shadow side of life.
We generally try to avoid the shadows: bad memories, scary dreams, our own negative emotions, the unknown, anything involving a battle. We avoid the shadows by ignoring them, dismissing them, repressing them, or renaming them. But still, the weight of them persists, dragging at our steps and taking up way too much space in our hearts.
As you observe all the trappings of Halloween this week, especially frightening pictures and the masks of monsters, witches, and what-have-you, ask yourself what these images evoke for you. Especially for those of us who are in the second half of life, shadows are not so frightening as they are illuminating. They teach us about ourselves. Sometimes they teach us how to heal.