Between the Shadow and the Sunshine


There is a tension in life that I feel more keenly at birthdays, weddings, and graduations. Reminders that life goes on whether or not I have figured out my place in it. I cannot slow it down or hit pause to take stock of what I am feeling or what it means. The working out of this tension must happen on the go, in the midst of the crazy.

I am feeling this tension now.

photo by Glenn Pearson from Pixabay

When Josh was little, he liked to play this game with me. With my shadow, actually. He would try to arrange his body is just the right shape so as to fit inside my shadow. His shadow would disappear, melting into the only evidence left on the pavement. Evidence of me.

I'm not sure why that brought his five-year-old heart so much joy. It delighted him to disappear into me. Is there a metaphor for safety and security in there? Probably. Perhaps a spiritual lesson on serving humbly? Maybe. But that's not where the tension lies.

The tension is in the realization that he can no longer fit into my shadow. He makes his own shapes upon the pavement. The path of the sun casts new shadows for each of us.

I recognize the beauty in the change. I look around and notice the sun shining brightly upon my son. I feel no sadness that his life has moved beyond my sphere of influence. His shadow delights me.

And yet, at the same time, I look back to the days when his shadow fit within my mine and I miss the boy I could wrap my arms around and cover completely.

So many times I am asked to feel both pain and joy at the same time. It is being asked of me again. Here is the tension. A great privilege. Also a great responsibility.

Now, I must remind my heart that his shadow proves that he is very much alive with life and health and purpose. I must learn to lean into his strong body, look up into the face I'd know with my eyes closed and cover him with my love and approval. I must step away and allow his shadow to form boldly.