Walking to Tully’s today with the sun on my back, I was impressed with my own shadow. It was much taller and thinner than me and gave me a glance as to what I would look like if I were about a foot or two taller. Everything compacted into my 5’2″ frame suddenly became longer and leaner.
But of course there were no details in the shadow. No face. No distinction between the color of my hair and palette of my outfit. Just a distorted outline of the reality of me. No life or personality. No experience or soul. Not a single thought or the smallest giggle.
Is there part of me that wishes I were 6’2″ like that shadow? Of course! But I’ll take the reality and all the filled in details that color my life over the silhouette on the sidewalk any day.
Shadows. They mark our lives don’t they? They can either represent hope (a shadow of things to come) or fear (afraid of one’s own shadow).
But the thing about shadows is that they are only representative, not the complete reality. They may mimic or hint toward what is really happening, but there is more depth and substance than they can fully convey.
Anxiety holds shadows. The what-ifs and endless possibilities of situational outcomes. The shadow of fear based on partial reality that doesn’t include the entire picture of that reality. These types of shadows play hide-and-seek games in our minds and the thoughts they create, the lurking shadows, feed on themselves. Eventually the shadow can become so big that there is no longer any room for reality and irrational fear takes over. Being afraid of the shadow stops us from facing the actual truth, which is never as frightening as the seven foot shadow our minds conceive.
But as I looked at my shadow walking ahead of me this morning, I thought of the good type of shadow. The shadow of hope and of things to come. And although I will never in reality gave 12″ in height, I do catch glimpses of a reality that I can’t see quite clearly yet.
Heaven. Eternity. A life without stress and pain and tears. A place where perfect unity and communication exists. Where love, and only love, rules the day. And my heart and soul long for it all.
I can’t see it yet, but oh, I see the shadows it casts sometimes. I hear it in the music that reduces me to tears. I experience it in the connection that happens when two souls collide and spill open into beautiful, transparent colors. I imagine it when I breathe in the smell of a blossoming tree and see it in the belly laugh of an exuberant child. I feel it in the sunshine on my back and the rain on my face. “Foretastes of glory divine.” The shadow of things to come. The knowledge that there is more out there. That the here and now is only a faint shadow of what lies ahead.
And like the shadow I danced with this morning, it makes me twirl with hope and anticipation. The reminder of my true reality. Eternity with Jesus that awaits me. It puts into perspective the difficulties of this life, this temporary reality, and motivates me to keep my eyes on the shadows of heaven. Watching its moves, its direction, its shapes and sizes. Viewing every minute of every day through the filter of that shadow of my future.
I’m going to choose my shadows carefully. Resisting the shadows of fear and doubt and leaning into the shadows that represent the reality I long for.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Philippians 3:20-21 – But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
1 John 2:25 – And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
Philippians 1:21 – 23 –
And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.