Be comforted; the world is very old,
And generations pass, as they have passed,
A troop of shadows moving with the sun;
Thousands of times has the old tale been told;
The world belongs to those who come the last,
They will find hope and strength as we have done.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “A Shadow”
The shadow’s the thing.
If I no longer see shadows as “dark marks,”
as do the newly sighted,
then I see them as making some sort of sense of the light.
They give the light distance;
they put it in its place.
They inform my eyes of my location here, here O Israel,
here in the world’s flawed sculpture,
here in the flickering shade of the nothingness
between me and the light.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
A shadow is hard to seize by the throat and dash to the ground.
~Victor Hugo from Les Miserables
In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.
These days I find myself seeking safety hiding in the shadows under a rock where lukewarm moderates tend to congregate.
Extremist views predominate simply for the sake of differentiating one’s political turf from the opposition. There is no discussion of compromise, negotiation or collaboration as that would be perceived as a sign of weakness. Instead it is “my way or the wrong way.”
I’m ready to say “no way,” as both sides are intolerably intolerant of the other.
The chasm is most gaping in any discussion of faith issues. Religion and politics have become angry neighbors constantly arguing over how high to build the fence between them, what it should be made out of, what color it should be, should there be peek holes, should it be electrified with barbed wire to prevent moving back and forth, should there be a gate with or without a lock and who pays for the labor. In a country founded on the principle of freedom of religion, there are more and more who believe our forefathers’ blood was shed for freedom from religion.
Give us the right to believe in nothing whatsoever or give us death. Perhaps both actually go together.
And so it goes. We bring out the worst in our leadership as facts are distorted, the truth is stretched or completely abandoned, unseemly pandering abounds and curried favors are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In the midst of this morass, we who want to believe still choose to believe.
There is just enough Light for those who seek it. No need to remain blinded in the shadowlands of unbelief.
I’ll come out from under my rock if you do.
In fact…I think I just did.