The Shadow Land
Once upon a time, there was a quaint, enchanted village full of magic. The village was fairytale like with fairies and goblins lurking in the trees. Everyone wanted to live in this village with its magical qualities. There was always a rainbow and many a traveller was seeking the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but nobody had yet found it. The village had a sense of promise and because of this, people travelled far and wide to come and visit to see if they too could witness the magic. It attracted people from all over the world who were destitute and in poverty, hoping that they would experience something in this place that would transform them and their lives.
But what people didn't realise is that this place was not all pure and light, there was a shadow of darkness that pervaded the village, something looming and intangible was lurking beneath the shadows. Nobody knew what this dark presence was and a lot of people liked to pretend that there was nothing there. They liked to pretend that there was only light and fairies, they did not want to acknowledge this dark presence that lurked beneath the shadows. Who in the village would be brave enough to confront this dark and malignant presence? Most of the inhabitants of the village did not want to admit to themselves or others that there was this presence lurking there. They liked to pretend that everything was pure and light and magical.
The inhabitants of the village played with the fairies and the goblins and the children would also play with the fairies and goblins. The adults convinced the children that everything in the village was magical and so the children had a sense of omnipotence and magic. They had no idea of the sense of foreboding that lay before them. They were protected from the darkness by the adults who didn't want their children to see the truth and the ugliness of this dark shadow. But as long as the inhabitants of the village continued to pretend that this darkness did not exist, it just got bigger and bigger.
No-one could see it, it did not manifest as a monster, it was just a sense of foreboding. The adults in their beds at night would secretly tremble with fear, because they could sense that this dark shadow which nobody could see was getting more and more strong and they had a fear that this dark shadow could cover the whole of the village until it was blacked out by darkness. They didn't tell their children about it because they told themselves that they wanted to protect their children from this ugly truth.
But soon this dark shadow began to yield more power - the fact that everyone tried to pretend that it wasn't there, actually gave the shadow more power and soon its malignant force started to have a damaging effect on the inhabitants. The dark shadow started to disperse into toxic molecules which infiltrated the water in the village and the inhabitants started to get sick. The children were no longer able to play innocently and with fun and laughter, the children grew sick from drinking the contaminated water and became pale and weak, but still the adults did not want to confront this dark shadow. They did not want to confront the ugly truth and get to know this dark shadow. They were afraid to see what this shadow really was, they were fearful of what would happen if they dared to confront this dark shadow.
But they knew that something had to be done because the children were getting sicker and sicker and what was once a magical enchanted village had lost its magic and charm. The malignant force had infiltrated everything in the village until the inhabitants were filled with despair and hopelessness. If only they dared to confront this dark shadow sooner, things wouldn't be hopeless. They needed someone brave to come and rescue them, to make everything better, so they could return to their enchanted magical life. But who would be brave enough to confront this dark shadow. Would it be a warrior prince from another land? Would it be a warrior princess? Would it be a king who could use his power and authority to destroy this dark shadow? How could this shadow be destroyed before it destroyed them?
And then one day, a young boy came into the village that no-one had ever seen before. He had a youthful innocence about him, a purity which came as a welcome contrast to the darkness which was now pervading the village.
He questioned to the elders of the village, "Why is everyone so sad and sick?" "What has happened?" The elders of the village had a sense that although this boy appeared youthful and innocent, he in fact possessed a lot of wisdom. The elders explained, "There is something here in this village which we can't speak about. No-one dare speak of it. It is too horrible and frightening to speak of. We are all afraid and we don't know what to do. We are hoping that a warrior prince or King will come and save us from this horrible force."
The boy asked, "What is this force that you speak of?" And the elders replied, "We cannot say, no-one has ever spoken to or confronted it as no-one has the courage to speak to this shadow. We need to find a way to destroy it and then our village can return to its enchanted, magical self. The boy replied, "I would like to meet with this shadow." The elders were shocked. "No", they replied. "The only person that can confront this shadow has to be a warrior prince or king, not a young boy."
"But I don't have the fear that you have," the boy replied. "I want to meet this shadow." The elders were scared for the boy but realised that they had nothing to lose as they had waited long for a prince or king to come and they had been waiting in vain. So they agreed with some hesitancy to allow the boy to meet the shadow. "We have no idea how you can speak to this shadow, no-one has ever spoken with it before," they explained.
The boy had faith that the shadow would appear for him to speak to. So one night, in the dark shadows of the forest, he laid himself bare on the soil and offered himself up to the shadow. He stated out loud, "I lie here in innocence and faith. I know you will reveal yourself to me if only I ask." So he lay patiently with humbleness and faith that everything would be okay. No matter how ugly the shadow might be, he would be protected by his faith. And there was a strange glowing aura around the boy, a golden aura that shone a light through the forest.
He waited patiently with faith for the shadow to emerge. As he opened his eyes, a dark mist surrounded him which whispered into the night. He heard muttering sounds and howling in the distance and bats started to fly above him intertwined in the dark mist. He could feel a breath rustling in the trees and murmuring. He was not scared by any of what he saw or heard. He stood up, feeling calm and protected. He did not know what he was protected by, but he knew that there was a force protecting him. He stood up, staring straight at the dark mist and the bats and as he stood up, the dark mist surrounded him and he started to feel a little bit dizzy as it was like a whirlwind around him, with a lot of force. He reached out his hand and touched the dark mist and he felt a warmth and then he heard cries of sadness and tears of water started to drop from the mist.
"No-one has ever offered me kindness before" spoke a muttering low whispering voice. "I only ever wanted someone to see me. I have been so lonely in this forest all by myself. I have not been able to understand why everyone in the village has not wanted to acknowledge me. I so desperately wanted the people in the village to acknowledge me and treat me like themselves. Instead, I have felt ostracised and ignored and so I made myself bigger so that people couldn't ignore me. But all I really wanted was for someone to acknowledge me. And if that happens, I know that I can transform. I don't really want to be a dark mist. I want to be more like you, but I need your acceptance and warmth so that I can transform into something gentler. I am so grateful to you, for offering me kindness and compassion. That is all I ever wanted."
The boy and the dark shadow came together in the forest and merged into one. They embraced each other tightly. As the dark shadow felt the warm embrace of the innocent child, he melted. He could feel the blackness of himself starting to soften and become lighter.
"Your love means everything to me," he said to the boy. "I finally feel accepted, which is all I ever wanted." The boy was so grateful and happy that the shadow was happy. They held hands and the shadow started to become smaller and softer.
The boy said, "Now we need to go to the village and tell them what you have said." The shadow felt stronger now that he was holding on to the boy and felt safe with the boy. "I feel safe with you," he said. "I will come with you to the village." They held hands all the way to the village and the other inhabitants were waiting fearfully in the centre of the village for news of the boy.
They were huddled together in fear when they saw the boy and the shadow approaching. They were trembling with fear and didn't dare speak. They stood in silence. The boy and the shadow approached.
"There is nothing to be fearful of," the boy said. "This shadow means no harm. All he ever wanted was to be loved and acknowledged by you. The only reason he got bigger and darker, was because he had to make himself seen, because he did not want to be ignored. He was desperately waiting for someone to love and appreciate him and show him love and compassion. You do not need to be fearful of the shadow. He is just like you and me. And really he is part of you and me. We all have a shadow that wants to be loved.
The inhabitants of the village were overjoyed at this news and they all started to approach the shadow. They apologised to the shadow for ignoring him for so long and they all gave him a huge embrace which the shadow was hugely grateful for. Slowly, one by one, everyone of the inhabitants came and embraced the shadow until the shadow had been completely transformed. He was now a ray of golden light which merged into the boy and the golden light of the shadow infiltrated the whole village and the magic of the village was once again restored and it was even stronger and brighter than before all thanks to the little boy who had faith.
Photography/pictures: Shamain/Ahha Mabnoba/Elena Schweitzer/Ievgenii Skryzhak/andreiuc88/Dmytro Tolokonov/Bram Janssens/Harald Biebel/www.123rf.com