Shadow Work

Listen, whatever it is you try to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you like the dreams of your body, its spirit longing to fly while the dead-weight bones toss their dark mane and hurry back into the fields of glittering fire where everything, even the great whale, throbs with song.—Mary Oliver

“I'm tired,” I typed into my phone. It felt silly to say but at the moment it's all I had. The past few days have brought highs and lows of the extreme variety leaving me staring at things without really looking at them. When I'm to the point of staring at things I know I'm done and it's best to crawl naked under my puffy marshmallow comforter, hug my pillow tight, and close my eyes.

I slept and dreamt of spiders this afternoon. Of spiders and my mother, and of exhaustion and overwhelm.

Three people have told me they've dreamed of me this week while others share that their dreams these days are vivid and wild. Mine have been remarkably so. The cosmos and our unmistakeable connection to the waning gibbous moon feel like an ocean at twilight, churning and choppy and shadowed. Suddenly everything means something. Nothing is as it seems. My private writing has grown deeply intense. Small betrayals continue pricking my skin with sharp teeth. I keep wanting to run and scream and leave this wakened land. I yearn to sleep and yet there is so much living left to do. So much desire.

“All are welcome at my table,” I say. I love a good, well-seasoned mercy. I wish to exclude no one, even when my triggered skin quakes at the thought. I try to find my place. I'm unaccustomed to feeling irked and flinch at the sour taste of chagrin. I wish to cultivate the grace of both + and, but there is so much noise. I will break my bread with the betrayer and the betrayed, but the wound is still fresh. I will pour the water and the wine; I will wash the feet and the soul. I will remain silent in the syllables of black and white;  I will speak in all the shades of poetry. And when the faces around my table are lively and ebullient I will slip out the back door, light up a clove, and run like the wind into the woods where the whippoorwills await. I will chase solace and solitude. I will rescue my lost wild.

All are welcome at my table and yet I'm no longer there. Perhaps there is grace for this, too.


My friend Katelyn came to see me. We sat in the first spring sun of the year and rested our feet in the soft earth. Her eyes shone with the sweetest and most peaceful green, like the fresh buds adorning all the surrounding trees as they waken from an especially deep winter. And as the sun spilled gold on his way west and we shared shy and dreamy conversation, she reached out to brush against my shoulder.

“A spider,” she explained simply.

“Thank you,” I said.

From The Dream Dictionary from A to Z by Theresa Cheung

From The Dream Dictionary from A to Z by Theresa Cheung

Hillary Rain