Red Herrings

A good mystery keeps you guessing up until the end, or at the very least, leaves you satisfied when you figure out who done it before it’s revealed. It does this by throwing out red herrings, clues that are intended to be misleading or distracting. Typically, several prime suspects are involved. Seemingly innocent people connected to the crime or murder by association with the victim become prime suspects by having no alibi or witness and by unexpected behaviors–the local priest having an affair, the quiet elder shopkeeper who has a dark, secret past. That doesn’t necessarily make them guilty, but it does make them intriguing and persons of interest. Shadow sides are brought to the fore in mysteries.

We all have them. Regardless of the level of self-awareness with which we’ve lived or tried to live our lives, we can still be caught off-guard by our shadows. A trigger, a mood or too much stress–all can cause us to behave in ways that surprise or disappoint us. In fact, we can become like red herrings, confusing not only people around us but also ourselves!

What ensues when the shadow is triggered is not always a pleasant play of shadow and light. Depending on the situation and the depth of emotion attached to it, it can take days to put the shadow to rest. For most of us, this is a delicate dance, whether we’re wrestling with our own shadow or have been caught in the crossfire of someone else’s or both.¬†Examining the darker side can be like solving a mystery.

If we lived in a world that was made up only of light or of darkness, we would never see one another, much less our own reflections. Complete light is blinding, as is total darkness. Forgiveness is of necessity wrapped up in examining our shadows, as is tenderness. Love, especially of self, is what allows us to stay with the mystery, to let go of the red herrings and focus on the light in the mirror.