I'm thinking about shadows today. Since there wasn't much sun showing through the clouds, there weren't many shadows. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there was one large shadow, cast by the thick layer of clouds overhead, so that everything was more or less an even gray.
At the risk of repeating myself, it is much harder to find photographic sparks of light on an overcast day.
I was musing on this at supper, and on the shadow I saw in the center of the flame I carried into the Advent spiral Saturday. John questioned whether it was actually a shadow. "The light isn't being blocked, it's just thinner at the base of the flame."
We peered at the flames of the Advent candles burning for our centerpiece. There's the blue at the edge of the base, and then a part with not much light. Squinching up one eye, and looking through the thin area, I could see the edge of the cranberry red candle behind it.
Indeed. There is a thin place there (but not the sort of thin place the Celtic Christians wrote of, those places where heaven seems closer than normal to earth).
Then I discovered that when I looked at a second flame through the first flame, I saw some intriguing effects. I could see the second flame through the first even beyond the thin part.
Here are three candles in a row, with the back two flames much smaller than the first.
Still, you can see something of what I saw. Here we are looking at the back two candle flames through the first flame. And when I moved so that all three were in a line, I could see the second through the first and the third through the first two.
Light a few candles and see what you see.
_Before we get too far past Sunday's lectionary reading from Luke, I want to return to the angel's message to Mary in verse 1:35, and spend a little more time with another kind of shadow.
The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
A few days ago my musings on this passage took me to the bright cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration, which overshadowed the disciples. Today I'm thinking about the golden statues of cherubim in the temple "overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings" and to all those psalms that have references to being sheltered in the shadow of God's wings, like 36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings, or 63:5 7: My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
The English word "overshadow" can feel heavy, like an overcast Indiana day, or a submissive Mary being overpowered by the dominant "Most High." Shadow feels like negative space. But what if shadow is a place of refuge, a place where we can sing for joy? A place -- a thin place, perhaps -- that gives birth to holy new life.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.