Skip to main content

Morning Through the Shadows

I came across a quote written by J.R.R. Tolkien the other day. He said:

"You can only come to the morning
 through the shadows."

Now, I've read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy a few decades ago. So, I don't recall who said these words (they may not even be from a work, but spoken by himself, though I think not) but they ring true.

Similar to "it's always darkest before the dawn" and "...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23), they essentially say the same thing.

Tolkien's phrase caught my attention because of the word "shadows." These are the things we think we see, or presuppose, or assume, or pretend are there, or any innumerable things we can substitute for the words shadows. Shadows imply something that is there, but the very thing is unclear. Do we see what we actually think we see?

After going to bed thinking about these words, and how they apply to us -- all of us in all circumstances and walks of life -- I woke up in the middle of the night bewildered and half asleep.

I tend to wake up like this, startled, half-awake and bleary-eyed, only a handful of times a year. But, they almost always occur after my husband has been home with us (or on vacation) for an extended amount of time and then goes back to work, for 48-72 hours at a time. He had been home for days and last night was the first time I was alone again in nearly two weeks.

Well, sure enough, I woke up with a start, wide awake in the middle of the night. And my head was cloudy. The room was dark, but there was just enough light from our digital clocks for me to see the pile of pillows on the bed where my husband would have been.

Now, I knew my husband was gone. But, the way the pillows were situated and the way the blankets lay, it looked like someone was next to me! And again, I wasn't really awake, so I was a little bonkers.

I sneaked a peak at the shape next to me, scared out of my mind. My heart raced, "Who was with me?"

It took me minutes to convince my brain that no one was there, that it was only the "shape" of a person, the shadows of a person. And after finally reaching out to touch the pillows, I realized it was just me seeing things through the shadows, that weren't really there.

Then, I woke up.

I think often we fear what exists in the shadows, because in the shadows things aren't what they seem. Most of the time, our fears never materialize.  They're based on judging what we can see with our physical and often imperfect eyes without looking at it from an objective, neurological point of view.

It takes temerity to actually think that we know what we're seeing, half- awake and bleary-eyed, when the shadows engulf us and dawn hasn't yet emerged. It's foolishness, really. Because, by morning we see things for what they truly are and disparage ourselves for being idiots in the shadows.

It takes light to shed truth onto the dark. It takes boldness to hang on to faith when everything around us seems as shifting as the shadows that loom before us.

Coincidentally, my oldest son is reading the trilogy right now as some summer reading, before his junior year begins of high school. To even think about my son being a junior scares me because it means college in two short years. The shadows of uncertainty and the unreal "what -ifs" appear throughout my mind daily: Where will he go? What will he learn? Can I even handle the fact that he will no longer be my little boy that I can keep track of?

It's the morning we need to zero in on, not the shadows. Ground yourself in the light. The lamp that guides our path. I must dwell on this and ignore the pile of pillows and blankets that seem like an evil lurking, because it's all a false image of reality.

Shadows create misguided trust. Don't focus on the shadows.

Instead, remember that all light -- even the smallest amount-- destroys darkness at its core.

-HJS

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Characters That Work

I’ve heard countless times that agents, when looking for the next great manuscript and readers, looking for the next great read, want compelling characters. But, what does this mean? Compelling? And why have I never thought of characters as compelling when I can’t put the book down? Sure, these characters are amazing, and sometimes I want to be in the middle of the stories as if they were my own experiences. But why? Compelling characters make me --force me-- to be in love with them as they find their way through trials or charge fearlessly down hidden hallways and dark forests. This makes for wonderful literature, and for fascinated readers. But how do we do this? How do authors create compelling characters -- ones that not only we want to read but others too -- and convince our readers that they should care about them? Here’s a tiny list by which I try to strive: Make them human: This is a given. And most writers would tell you this is. Give your character flaws that lots o

Music and Me

So, this post is about music. Why? Because author extraordinaire Alex J. Cavanaugh  is doing a music blogfest. For those who chose to sign up and write about this subject, like me, we get the opportunity to muse about the top ten songs that have inspired us the most over our life. This is a rather subjective and varied blog idea, because sometimes the strangest music can inspire us, or move us, or allow us to remember a time or place or moment or person ... for the rest of our lives! And that is also why it is such a grand idea to make a list of the most inspirational songs: to remember, to pontificate, and think about such like: Wow, that song was awful, but I sure loved it! Warning: This list is going to be majorly filled with eighties music. Why? Again, for the reasons listed above. I was age "ten and up" in the mid-eighties. Talk about an inspirational and impressionable time of anyone's life! Because of that, I feel the eighties were good to me. And I don&

Write This Down

I had a great conversation with a writer-friend of mine this week. She and I have been in a similar predicament for the past few years, in that most of our energy and time has gone into raising our children, and not into the world we so longingly want to delve into: writing. Our kids, of course, and the time we give them is valuable time dedicated. We understand that. We chose to forego our passion of writing for them instead. But, we also discussed why some writers -- as busy as us --were still able to write while raising a family. Did they have extra help? Was their writing so miraculous that their brains just downloaded the stuff onto their computer in mere minutes? What did they do differently? Obviously, many women and men raise their children and manage to write; perhaps even write bestsellers (ahem ... Mrs. Meyers). So what’s the difference between them and us? What was it that made them more productive? It comes down to something very simple: these authors wanted to write