Pastor Pat Bailey: View from the Pulpit

Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church

Pastor Pat Bailey: View from the Pulpit

Pat Bailey of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church, is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1987. For 16 years, Pat served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He is also an Iraq War veteran. Pastor Pat holds several degrees: a Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary, a Master of Theology in comparative religion from Emory University, and (recently) a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. His primary professional interests are interfaith spirituality, evolutionary consciousness, nature spirituality – and accompanying others in spiritual community. To that endPastor Pat has been blogging on Telluride Inside… and Out for years. This post marks the launch of a new series: “View from the Pulpit.”

Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church

Pastor Pat Bailey

I am looking out my window today at golden aspens, russet hills, and leaves dancing on cool breezes in light and shadow. Not quite at its peak just yet, autumn has arrived in Telluride.  There is already a thin layer of snow on the mountains, enough to compel an early inspection of skis and to incite night dreams of downhill glides. Blackbirds grapple for every scrap of food, evening bears rummage the alleys and, of course, the nights grow longer and longer still.

The fall of the year is associated with the westward direction, the place where the sun sets, the horizon between our nights and days and twilight’s mingling of light and darkness. The season is also a metaphor for our adolescent transition with all its shadowy disintegration of opposites. In the fall we might feel again the tension of unfinished battles and undiscovered landscapes haunting our inner worlds.

I have taken to discussing such autumnal themes in my Sunday sermons. I am currently offering a series on befriending our shadow sides. Our shadows are those aspects of our personality that are hidden from others  – and often from ourselves. Negative shadows are those traits we refuse to love and therefore they find inappropriate and often destructive ways to manifest themselves. Positive shadows are those traits that we refuse to live and therefore lie fallow.

In his book “Shadow Dance,” David Richo offers a wonderful metaphor for our shadows. He claims we all have cellars full of unexamined shame and attics full of our unclaimed valuables.  The work of befriending our shadows involves transforming our inner demons and awakening our dormant divinities.

Shadow work engages both ego and Spirit. Ultimately, it is not something that can be achieved or forced; it depends upon grace and our readiness to open ourselves to it. It is not about denying, disowning, or destroying unwanted aspects of our personality; rather, it involves recognizing, owning, and befriending them so that we do not lose the energy and the truth about ourselves they hold. It is a way of honoring all that God has created us to be and thereby contributes to the wholeness of all.

Peace be with you…

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