The Sacred: Shadows

It’s that time of year.  Shadows are about.  Even on a bright sunny December day, there’s something about the angle of the sun now in the sky that just makes for more shadows–even at noon.  For the holidays, we reason, we put up all kinds of lights, on our modest homes and highest skyscrapers–lights to force back the shadows.  Or so we think.

What is it about shadows that so quickly, so silently, and so secretly affect us?  Walk into a room cast in shadows, and immediately we grope for the light switch.

What if we chose for a moment, or a day, to live with the shadows only a little more?  No doubt, some of us would face some instant terror that shadows have held for us since we were children, so in in those instances, perhaps we practice living with the shadows in theshadows early afternoon when we still have assurances of the light.  But, whenever we choose, let us practice living with the shadows that are a natural, and therefore, sacred part of this time of the year.  Perhaps we choose to turn on fewer lights for a while in the morning, or turn them on a little later in the afternoon, or to stand in the shadows for a few minutes in the evening as we shut down the house for bedtime.  This practice with the shadows could be a simple choice to be present, to notice the shadows, and if we dare, to welcome them.

Thank you, shadows, for the blanket of softness you cast over my shoulders.  Thank you shadows for how you help me listen more intently in the absence of light.  Thank you, shadows for connecting me to all things and people in the world who also, at this hour, are sleeping, moving, loving and living in the dark.  Thank you, shadows, for being another kind of tapestry in my life.

The shadows of this time of the year are nature’s gift to us.  They are necessary if nature’s bounty is to arise, again, in green next spring.  They are a clarion call to rest.  They are a blanket that would tuck us into quiet, reflection and renewal, and because of that, they are an invitation to stop moving, planning and playing, and just be.  Here.  Now.

Whether we choose to do any of this practicing with the shadows, they will be there again today–all day long, in varying forms.  If nothing else, this year, perhaps we just notice them.  They will be there again tomorrow, and next year.  They are nature’s sacred gift to us–if we receive them.

Bob Patrick

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