Guest Post: Leaping Into the Void

Leaping Into the Void

By Jean Benedict Raffa, Ed.D.


“Crisis and pain often catalyze a genuine, heart-felt attempt to reach toward the mysteries. In the grip of pain, we more readily reach through the veils of forgetfulness and wiles of the shadow attitudes that block the heart path.” ~Jungian Analyst Monika Wikman


In my mid-thirties, despite having a loving family, comfortable home, and inspiring religious community, I was deeply unhappy with myself and tormented with questions. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not satisfied with my life?  Who am I, really? There’s got to be more to life than trying to be June Cleaver, doesn’t there? One night, ashamed to the core that I couldn’t seem to love God, others, myself, or my life in the ways I believed I should, I prayed the most fervent prayer of my life. “Please God!  Teach me to love. I don’t care what it takes. Do whatever you want with me. Just teach me to love.” As one who had always lived in my head and played it safe, this was a big leap for me.

 

Some months later my husband told me about a new doctoral program in my field at our local university. I knew going back to school would be difficult for me and could present real problems for him and our children. But I was desperate for fulfillment and meaning, so with no assurance that moving in this direction was the answer, I took the leap.


“When we open our hearts to experience the opposites in our lives, we open ourselves to the legitimate suffering inherent in life.” ~Monika Wikman


Within a year I was confronting a new awareness of my shadow, new conflicts between opposite parts of myself, and a whopping new spiritual crisis. After months of agony I took another leap, but only in my mind, because the situation that initiated it was resolved before I could act. Brought to my knees, I entered a Dark Night of the Soul during which I continued to function normally in the outer world.


“Often in individuation, tremendous refinement of love is required over the course of our lives.  Then unconscious shadow attitudes are identified…and with grace, compassion, and work these shadows transform, and find their appropriate place.  As they do, then true humanity and individuality arise.” ~Monika Wikman


Eight years later I discovered Jungian psychology and began working on my dreams. Eros (feeling) awakened and lights switched on.  Within a year I knew my heart’s passion, so I took another leap. I resigned from teaching and started writing my first non-academic book. I’ve been following my heart ever since. 


“There is a time to leap, and a time not to leap, and these are completely individual fates and responsibilities. There is also a way to take that leap in your life that may also completely change later in life. Perhaps life suddenly requires that you discover different arenas in which to leap with Eros. Such arenas include intrapsychic, interpersonal, intraspecies, intercultural, and so on.” ~Monika Wikman


Five months ago I had this dream: Dream #4370: Leaping Into the Void

I’m running with others across a green lawn. People ahead of me are leaping with abandon into a deep chasm. I long to follow but am concerned about my safety so I stop at the edge to watch. Below me are several ledges, each one jutting farther out from the chasm wall than the one above. Each ledge has a white trampoline on it and there are four large white trampolines way down at the bottom. Some people leap right down to the large trampolines then bounce off safely, but I’m afraid I might miss, so I jump carefully down to the first ledge. It gets easier and more fun as I go. By the last level I have no fear and jump onto a large one with ease. As I bounce into the air, I say happily to someone to my right, “I could almost do a backwards flip.”


“Eros does seem to require---even with refinement---a touch of the sacred fool who can leap into the unknown, into the cracks between worlds, into the splits in human consciousness to discover healing, contact with the numinous, and new bridges.”  ~Monika Wikman


My initial response to this dream was to wish I had jumped with more confidence, thinking that would mean I had learned to trust the Self’s guidance. But as I thought about it I realized that giving myself time to think things through is a healthy way to approach the void.  Being too impulsive can have disastrous consequences.


“You need an individually-honed connection to the religious instinct, and to the development of Eros within, in order to have the leap be connected with soul and the true development of individuality. Then the way in which the leap takes place, the arena, and the spirit of the leap are instruments of Eros refining itself in your life.” ~Monika Wikman


I feel Eros refining itself in me almost every day, but there’s a long road ahead. At this point my focus is on growing more aware of unloving thoughts and attitudes as they occur, then forgiving myself. It’s been a thrill to discover that as my compassion grows, my life-long demon of self-criticism is losing some of its power.


I’ll never be sorry for choosing to leap into love so long ago. It didn’t set me on the easiest path in the world, but oh, it’s been a grand adventure.


Quotes by Monica Wikman are from Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness. Berwick, Maine: Nicolas-Hays, Inc.


Jean Raffa is an author, speaker and workshop leader. Her newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace With Ourselves, Each Other, and the World, is a product of 19 years of research and writing about psychological integration as a spiritual path to evolving consciousness. It recently received the 2013 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for best non-fiction book by an individual in secular media who communicates religious issues, values and themes with the utmost professionalism and fairness, and encourages understanding between faith groups on a national level.  You can find more about Jean’s books at her website, www.jeanraffa.com. Matrignosis, her blog about inner wisdom, is at www.jeanraffa.wordpress.com.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.