It’s amazing how heavy a shadow can be.
After all, a shadow is just brilliant light with something in its way.
Sometimes I am both the light and the something in its way. Does that ever happen to you?
This week was a shadow week. The weight of it made my joints hurt, pulled my cheeks into a persistent frown, buried my voice deep in the darkness of it.
For me the remedy is time.
As time goes along, the light moves, shifts its way past the something until clear light returns.
For me, the shadow moved this afternoon. Suddenly the heavy was lifted off of me. In its place, gratitude poured in. Gratitude, in fact, for the thing that I was fighting against, part of the heaviness, even.
It didn’t last.
But it was wonderful! And it brought to me something that had seemed to have left me entirely.
Hope for the light to return. Hope for my wings to unfurl. Hope for a lightness of heart that had seemed to escape me.
With hope came also a reminder.
There is such beauty in shadows. My favourite pictures balance shadow and light. The language of trees are the shadows of their branches. Without the contrast of shadow, light mutes colour into pale impersonators.
There are also the butterflies.
You knew I’d mention them, didn’t you?
You know that when I walk, I always look for beauty, right? That I have my camera ready and my eye tuned to find beauty in all the small things.
Frequently, those small things are on the ground, so a lot of my looking has my eyes cast down.
What brings me up, with a rush of delight and wonder, is a shadow.
The moving shadow I barely catch a glimpse of. The floating shadow that changes in shape and size as I track it. The shadow with that gorgeous double-heart shape.
It’s true. More often than not, when I see a butterfly, first I see its shadow.
That movement, that darkness, that shape, bring my head up and my camera to ready in search of the butterfly.
There’s a hushed wonder in this moment, a rush of questions. Will I find the source of the shadow? What colours will it be wearing? Will it pause for my camera or coyly rush away?
And there is gratitude. Gratitude that while my eyes were down, they could still see the beauty in the shadows.
Despite all this, the shadow doesn’t know its true value.
Heavy with darkness, it is blind to the source of its existence. It cannot see that it is born from beautiful colours floating freely on the air. It does not hear my whispered excitement as I discover it.
And we each, in the depths of our own shadows, also are blind to the colours that create them. We forget the freedom we have. We forget the movement of our lives, the hope that returns again and again. We forget our own wings.
The next time you find yourself in a shadow, try to remember that it will shift. Know that you are not the only one who feels the heavy burden. Seek the message in the darkness. And whisper to your heart the story of her wings. They will unfurl again. Brighter and more gorgeous than ever before.
I know yours will. As will mine. And here, in the shadows, I’ll make ready for their return.
What do you do to find your way through your shadows?
Whether in shadow or not, you may find a hint of the brightness you seek in the 23 daily emails of 23 Whispers.