The Season of Shadows

Scripture Passage: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—2a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come…12Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;13rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.14Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?15Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;16gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.17Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
In the shadow of the morning, we can see just a hint of light peeking through the clouds.  There is no brightness, no need to shield our eyes from the glare.  The season of shadows has begun.  We have been through this before.  We know what is to come.  And, yet, we cannot help but continue down the path.  It is where we are called to go.  The Light is at the end.  But to get to it, we must walk through the shadows.  We must walk through the ashes of last year’s palms and the smoky residue of plans we had.  It is the way that we return.  It is the way home.
We don’t do well with shadows.  There is something untrustworthy about these shadows, as if they’re hiding something that we cannot see.   But think about it.  A somewhat overcast day is a photographer’s dream.  After all, we need light; we crave light; we are children of the Light!  The darkness is not for us.  It is foreboding.  We do not know which way to go.  But light…full, glaring, heat-ridden light.  It is too much.  So we don our sunglasses and we pull down the shades.  Our eyes are not accustomed to the glare.  It is just too hard to see.  But filtered light, those overcast days, those gray, cloud-filled shadow days that seem to hide something behind it all–those are the ones that let us see.  The glare is gone.  And there is just enough light to illumine our way.  Shadows are disconcerting and, yet, they provide the place for the most clarity.  The filtered colors are brilliant as if all of them are refracted through one prism in brilliant technicolor.  The shadows are where we can truly see.

This is the Season of Shadows.  As hard as it is for us to admit to ourselves, we are not yet ready for the Light.  So God gives us just enough to show us the way without blinding our path.  We will walk for 40 days, stopping to rest every now and then as the Light become brighter, stopping to adjust our eyes.  This is the Season of Shadows, the season of clarity, the season that lights our way when we’re not really ready for the brightness of Home.  Let us now walk, slowly, basking in the shadows.  Even the Shadow is a part of God’s grace.

On this Day of Ashes, remember that even the Shadows were created by God.  And be thankful.

Grace and Peace,


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