Chapter XVI – Shadows, Light and Darkness
There will be shadows. There will be light and there will be darkness and there will, as a result, be shadows. Learning to become and be comfortable with uncertainty along with being willing to examine my thoughts, will help me to stay in the discomfort of shadows without the comfort of an Epiphany Star.
When I look at great art, I realize the value of shadows. They define and they provide for contour; which is so valuable in discernment and discretion while also uncomfortable. And liminal spaces without any shadows are nothing more than pass-through, since it is the shadows which make the liminal so exciting, so magical and so mystical.
There will be light as we see in the Transfiguration, the Bethlehem star and the Resurrection-morning-breakfast on the beach. But in each case, the surrounding darknesses define the light and make it what it is. Transfiguration’s bright, white, uncreated light is set between great physical and spiritual darknesses from which they emerge and into which they return. The star begins a conversation about being with and without light – since being with a star (“astron” in the Greek) is so comforting while being without a star’s guiding light can be so frightening and disorienting (how we get the word “disaster” from the Greek’s “dis-astron” – without a star to guide.)
God is present in the light, the dark and the shadows. God seems not to choose to often interfere with nature and its rules, so the vulnerability of life is very real, un-sugar-coated with prosperity-gospel silliness but heavy also, with uncertainty and glory.
Am I willing to stay in the shadows of the sunrise and the sunset? Am I willing to embrace uncertainty and vulnerability as a reality and not fight it into religious boxes, labeled, controlled and neat? And can I – will I – believe that God shows up in the shadows as well as in the light and the darkness? Can I know the star is up there, even when it is behind clouds? And when I am in “dis-astron” – life’s disasters – life’s moments without the clarity of a guiding star; can I embrace a Savior who comes as a recognizable, gentle, furious, real human – aware that God so loves me and us that God would do such a thing to connect?
Charles, let go of the white-picket-fence idea of life! It has never served you well. Step into the jungle instead, where there is neither control nor order but great CHAORD – that magical, wonderful, shadowy place where vulnerability meets faith and God does much more interesting things.