Monday, January 15, 2007

Light and Shadow

Shadow of blowing leaves,
Though only a part,
Motion in a stagnant room.

I wrote those lines in college, during a class I had come to hate. The way the professor taught, it drained the life and joy out of the subject we were studying (a subject I loved.) It was fall. I was not only bored but becoming depressed, and sitting there in that lifeless room was the last place I wanted to be.

I noticed the shadows on the wall of leaves blowing outside and found them more lifelike than anything in the room, even though they (the shadows) weren’t really anything, just part of the play of light outside where the real tree was. I desperately wanted to be out there with the tree and the wind and the fresh air.

The significance of that moment still surprises me. I’ve never forgotten those few words I wrote in the margin of my notebook, never forgotten the room we were in, the professor, the subject, who my classmates were.

It was the semester I plunged into the worst depression I ever experienced, lasting months and months and changing my life in profound ways. On that day, those simple shadows of leaves represented life to me.

And so today, with rain pouring down since before we woke up, cloudy skies and a dark house, I like this photo that I took a couple of months ago of a graceful golden gingko branch on a tree down the street, with its shadow playing on the wall of the house.

I think how our glimpses of God are essentially like shadows. We couldn’t bear to see His radiance, so we see little parts of Him as He makes them known. Our ways of loving are like shadows compared to the light of His love. Our kindness is nothing like His.

Even this earth in all its natural beauty is only a hint of the glorious new heaven and new earth on the other side of the window of time.

And isn’t it amazing how these shadows, though only parts of His goodness and glory, bring life into the rooms of our hearts. They get us through the stagnant moments and increase our longing for the real world.

May clouds and shadows always make us yearn for light and reality.



Carolinagirl said...

Today was one of those days of which you wrote about. It's amazing how weather can play a part in our moods. I have sat through a 3-day weekend, quickly coming to an end and everything I'd have liked to have done wasn't possible due to the weather. Historical houses are closed for the season and won't re-open until April. We've no snow, so skiing wasn't a possibility either. So, here I've sat, letting 3-days of foggy, rainy days pass me by. Ah - yes, the winter, when days are drawn even more depressing by the longer darkness.

This too shall pass...shadows can sometimes be a good thing in making our inner being think. (I wonder if I've made any sense at all.)

Lawrence Underwood said...

What a wonderful observtion. Those shadows in our lives are a beautiful appetizer of the full meal we will enjoy when you go home. I sometimes wonder what God must think when we, in our hurried and concern filled lives, get so caught up in the temporal of our lives. I don't think I will ever view a shadow the same again.

Gioietta said...

She, thanks for sharing this. My heart is heavy, wondering all that your heart has had to ponder and endure throughout life. Yet, I think of your voice speaking way back when, through the heartache and the 'lifelessness' of those days, and how it continued fighting for life, even if it only could see a shadow of if.
Love you, miriam