In the book, Dark Nights of the Soul, Thomas Moore talks about the need to come to terms with the fact that within each of us there is darkness and that we need to not only recognise this darkness, but to own it as part of the whole, the totality of who and what we are. Moore says;
“In your dark night you may learn how to become darker. It isn’t enough theoretically to believe in shadow. You have to live it in such a way that it is real but not literal.” [p. 115]
When we take off our clothes, we become more, not less, of ourselves. Clothing allows others only to see a small part of who we are, a controlled face of ourselves. We want to hide our self-perceived defects and flaws. When we are unsure of ourselves, we are desperate to have others see us as we imagine we could be “if only . . . “. The problem with this is the disturbing evidence that we are not really aware of others see of us. So, we hide more and more of ourselves which unfortunately makes us more and more of a stranger to ourselves.
Rather than avoid disclosing ourselves on a physical level, we need to bare our bodies to our own eyes and discover every aspect of our bodies. Nothing should be left undiscovered. As we become familiar with all the defects and flaws that we hid from in the past, we begin to realise that there really aren’t any defects and flaws, Rather, we learn that we are more, much more than we have ever imagined. As we integrate all this, the fact that a human body can’t be anything but imperfect, there is hope that one will then have the courage to face the darkness within, the flaws and defects of our inner selves.
A person can’t just go half way on the journey to wholeness; both the inner and outer self has to be uncovered, exposed and then embraced. The dark self is real. In becoming familiar with that dark self, one doesn’t give the dark self permission to act out that darkness. What one needs to do is to recognise that within is a saint and a demon. Without awareness, the demon can erupt from within without our awareness and leave a trail of wreckage for us to deal with when consciousness returns.
With nudity, we steal the power of repression and replace it with a healthy sense of self and other. There is less pull to the darker side of the human body, to pornography, to rape, to sexual exploitation of others. With becoming familiar with our naked psyche, we earn the same power and become more respectful or ourselves and others. What is repressed is expressed unconsciously.
Perhaps this is the message of hope that comes with the Dark Night of the Soul represented by the Crucifixion of Christ, the promise of a return to light. Yes, this is a deliberate choice for today’s blog post, Good Friday.