Years ago, I received a gift from a dear college friend — a small, framed colored drawing. The focal point is the backs of two friends sitting side by side on a hill, and under them, the words, “We have been friends in sunshine and in shade.”
The above picture is one I took during my writing week at St. Benedict’s Monastery in early August. For some reason, even as I posted other flower photos, this one seemed a stand-alone to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but it didn’t seem to fit in with the other floral shots. The image seemed to be telling me something important, but I hadn’t taken time to figure out. Until recently.
In the last couple days, I’ve gotten closer to what it is, and it feels symbolic. This sunshine-and-shade image reminds me of life and my relationships within it — including my relationship with God. Sometimes, I feel like I am very much in the light. This might mean that I’m in a learning phase of my faith, reaching upward, looking around and absorbing the light through reading, talking with others, and moving outward in my search. But eventually, this won’t do. Eventually, I must come back into the shade to absorb what I have learned, and if I sit still long enough, incorporate my newfound knowledge within my inner self. When this has been accomplished well, I am able to step forward into the light again and, hopefully, if I’ve spent enough time in the absorption stage, I will have something to share with others.
Staying in the light too long can be blinding. Staying in the shade too long can be counterproductive. A fragile balance exists between light and shade that we must learn to manage. Both are needed. The waxing and waning, the yin and yang — both are required for completeness.
Right now, I’m not fully in light or shade. It’s a transition time, and I am uncertain about some things, sure about others, but most of all, hopeful and expectant. It’s a new year in my life as well as the beginning of the school year; a time for revising schedules and reorienting the flow of the family. We are figuring out our new places, trying to find the balance. It’s a little unnerving and exciting at the same time.
One thing makes all of this easier, and that is that God is always light and cannot be anything but light. Even when my family and I move in and out of the shade, searching for our proper place, God is steady, always beckoning us to turn more fully in the direction of goodness, beauty and truth, just like the pretty little flowers front and center.
What woos you out of the shade and into the light?