Vigilant of the shadow

February 27, 2019 in News

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

How quickly it can come. Balance seemed only a moment ago. A wrong turn or without cause, the blame game, plunging into darkness with rain on the way. Rain can turn to hail, and down, down, down I go.

In a curious way, I wonder about the cause of my blame. I ponder that it is my inner critic that is trying to hijack my life. I know I’m a good person, but why am I falling, going from low to lower? Surely I can intervene to stop this plundering. Surely I can be more vigilant and skillfully counteract this destruction. I also wonder about the state of my heart. Is it in turmoil? Is it dead? And I wonder about my sense of peace. Did someone rob it? Did a vicious dog or its owner attack me all of a sudden? Perhaps I can turn back in time. Perhaps I can reconcile what needs to be reconciled.


But there is always hope, to help myself, to stand up and veer from the shadow, to open my eyes and return to the light. I reach out to a person, to an activity that inspires, that nourishes, that enables me to see the sun.

The path toward hope seems possible. I can stand up and be somebody. I can switch to my inner observer that notices my destruction and sees things as they are. It sees that my life is mostly filled with kindness and beauty, and then I turn to nourishing people and activities. I examine my whole self, my whole life. Committing to fully turn toward the sun, a source of life, is something I am passionate about. There are no half measures in this regard: either I am fully in or I am fully out. Either my mission is to grow and experience love or complain and die early. I want to be a vigilant warrior of mind, heart and body. I want to wisely love the world.


I experience the hidden beauty of things through attending to the weighing scales of life, which holds one weight in light of another. On the one hand, I am holding the stress of the world – rushing, lack of manners, unawareness – and on the other hand, I am holding balance and harmony – the right pace, consideration of others, awareness. In an interconnected way, I know that if I experience peace I must also tune into the stress of others. On another day, it could be me who is stressed and others who are balanced.

How wonderful it is to return to balanced mood again! When I was plagued by low mood, I thought I was a goner for a moment or two with plenty of distractions to get hooked on empty promises. But I used my mindful resources to adapt to the challenges that life threw at me. I entered into mysticism through accepting the tensions of my life experience. As an aspiring mindful mystic, I now appreciate ordinary life again. I rejoice that I am blossoming in my own way and dancing my own dance.

[This first poetic reflection on mental health for young people is in line with the Jesuits’ new apostolic preference: “To accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future”. More to follow soon].

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