The Shadow’s the Thing



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


shadow closeup


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.
~Blaise Pascal


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.

Enough already.

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.



6 thoughts on “The Shadow’s the Thing

  1. Please don’t hide! You are one of the ones bringing light to balance the shadows! There are lots of us who choose to believe, and many who are looking for a way to believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The same is true over here in the UK, Emily, but those of us with faith choose to practise that faith, and try hard to speak of it and not be cowed. Those with courage, like you, shine a strong light. Your quotations were so aptly chosen here, and I’ve added them to my growing number of books of quotations, as I do with so many of yours. God bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A sad, achingly accurate, commentary on where we are — as individuals and as a nation. If I were to pinpoint a time when we first began to feel this malaise and things began to crumble and gradually fall apart I don’t think I could.
    In my recent memory, I think the period of the ’60s certainly would be one significant point to consider – when we were so morally and emotionally divided and torn apart — politically, nationally and, perhaps most painfully, within our families. Historians could probably legitimately point to earlier decades as a significant genesis. Mass visual media, I think, was a contributing factor to the reality of the ’60s era — right into our living rooms as we were having our evening meal. As a Catholic Christian I would have to add Vatican 2 to that mix. It, too, was a time of significant change – divided loyalties, sometimes fractious changes and concepts, and questioning of once-considered implacable moral certitudes – like our national politics. Your pithy but valid comments, Emily, and those of your readers express my feelings exactly.. The author quotes you have chosen are perfect – short but effectively germane.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alice is absolutely right about the 60s, a decade that began and ended with political assassinations and featured unending war in between. The current decade began with a horrible recession, features daily assassination of fact and reputation along with foreign and occasionally domestic warfare, and who knows how it will end? In the meantime, our transition to a service economy has not gone well for many. We have 300 channels instead of three or four, and newspaper readership is steadily declining. Our instant, ubiquitous communication has made the world smaller while greatly enlarging the figurative distance between former friends, neighbors, and family members. The pace of life has picked up considerably, and the entire country seems to be in drive-thru mode. What to do? I think Emily has answered this question- enlightened us if will- much better anyone else could.

    Liked by 1 person

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