From the shadows

You are standing in the shadows.

Maybe you didn’t realize it at first because everyone else seemed to be there with you. Maybe your back was turned to the light, or maybe you were just so used to the sight of that brightness on the far horizon you didn’t think about it anymore.

Funny, you never realized that shadows move. The light stays in its place, sure and constant, but the shadows are always restless, always moving. You weren’t thinking about that, and you were looking down, not up or out, so when the shadows crept in, you didn’t notice. You never realized how you began to stay in the shadows all the time, moving with them, growing accustomed to the dark. Only now, you’re starting to get cold, and the shadows are becoming more, well, shadowy.

You look around. People are there with you in the shadows. So many people. They are shivering. Some are crying. Most are looking down, like you were. You know these people. You love them. In their hands they hold broken things of all kinds. Your heart aches for them, and you weep, and you want to help them. You move toward them, but what can you do? You, too, are holding brokenness. You, too, are shivering in the shadows.

You look beyond to the light. It hurts your eyes. Did you really once live there, in that brightness and warmth? Remembering, you long for it. You show the others, pointing, but they shake their heads. It is too far away, too far. They look down.

But you cannot look away. You remember the light, and its heat draws you now. Something else comes to you, a memory: you, huddled on the ground in deep night, curled against stone, and someone walking toward you, bearing a tiny flame. A hand reaching out, grasping yours, pulling you up. Leading you into the day.

Yes. Someone brought the light to you. That was how it began. You can’t think how you ended up back here. Maybe you could go, could make that journey to the light, could carry it back here . . .?

You look down. You know what will happen if you go there. You will be seen. And all those things you are holding in your hands, they are so ugly. So wrong. All the parts of you that have been safely invisible here in the shadows will suddenly be displayed for all to see. Your face. Your scars. And then who will want to look at you? Who will grasp your hand then?

But when that light was carried to you, you didn’t notice the brokenness of the bearer. You only saw the light and the hand outstretched. And when you did rise, when you did see the face of the one who came to you, you saw it was a face like yours. And then the imperfections made all the difference, because if such a one could dwell in the light, could carry the light, maybe you could too.

All this you remember. You have wandered far, have accumulated many more ugly things. But there is a place in the light, you know, where the ugly things are cast into a bottomless pit. Your hands could be emptied and filled.

You really could be a light bearer, if you were brave. If you were willing to go there, step back into the light, hold out your ugliness and then, release it. If you were brave, you could let yourself be seen and held. You could carry that light all the way back here, to the people you love.

You are standing in the shadows. Look up. The light is calling you home.

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