I've been thinking about shadows lately. (yes, I know that is a totally random thing to be pondering, but that is the way my weird mind works sometimes.)
There is a dog named Shadow in the kids movie "Homeward Bound. He is loyal and brave and tough.
Peter Pan loses his shadow and has to have it sewed back on. He is lonely without it.
In the Lion King, Simba refers to the hyena's home as "that shadowy place."
...clearly I watch too many kids movies...
Depending on the time of day, my shadow makes me feel skinny...or the opposite of it.
Our house casts a shadow on our front lawn, so much so that there is still a bit of snow surviving in places, despite the fact that it was 70 degrees here yesterday.
For the most part shadows are kind of a pain. They obscure things from view. They are a place where sneaky people notoriously hide. They are home to all the creepy, crawly critters. Most plants can't grow there, because there is no light.
And then their are the metaphorical shadows. The ones that lurk inside us.
They rise up at unexpected times and cast their long dark fingers across our hearts, making it cold and sad and lonely.
Shadows of regret.
Shadows of loneliness. Abandonment. Fear. Doubt. Grief.
I have shadows under my eyes this morning, caused by the shadow of grief that lurks in my heart. When it rears its ugly head and blots out the sun, I feel helpless against it. No amount of light pierces it for very long. I swear, this shadow of mine has claws and teeth and breathes fire.
The worst thing about all these heart shadows is: we never know when they will rise up and blanket us in their darkness. Its totally random, triggered by nothing, or by something that doesn't make any logical sense.
And suddenly we are standing in the grocery store, paralyzed by fear.
We are sitting on the couch, and guilt overwhelms us.
We are on the phone with a friend, and unforgiveness is choking the breath from our lungs.
Yesterday some plans I had been hoping to make with my baby sister fell through. She lives in Hawaii and I don't get to see her very often, and I was pretty determined to make this particular plan work. When I finally realized that it just wasn't feasible...I sat down in my bathroom floor and cried.
And cried. And cried. And cried.
Because a shadow had risen up. And I was reminded of a family dinner at a restaurant 3 1/2 years ago, a dinner I wasn't able to be a part of and a picture taken of everyone but me. I was reminded that it was the last pictures taken of my family with Joy in it...and I wasn't there. And now she's gone. And that is a night I will regret missing out on for the rest of my life.
And fear joined the regret, and irrationally I worried that Rachel would die before I got to see her again, and I had a panic attack, because even though she is still on this planet...it seemed no different than trying to get to heaven to see Joy...I just couldn't reach out and hug either one of them.
And it was dark and cold and shadowy in my heart the whole day, despite the fact that it was absolutely perfect outside.
But last night...something else crept in. A whisper. A feeling. A gentle tug.
A song on the radio.
These words: "...find rest in the shadow of the Almighty..." Psalm 91:1
My breath hiccuped in my throat.
My tears tracked silently down my face.
The shadows didn't magically retreat from my heart.
I can find rest in the shadows?
I don't have to fight them off?
I don't have to wait till they retreat?
I don't need the sun to shine?
I can rest in the shadow.
Because its His shadow.
Because all the other ones are totally consumed by His.
Oh. The freedom.
We don't have to wait for our dark places to be filled with light.
We don't have to hang on until the hard times pass.
We don't have to choke back the shadows of past pain that threaten to overwhelm us.
We don't have to pretend the shadows aren't there.
No! Crawl deeper into the Shadow. He is there with us in the dark...and we can rest.