What is true in art about shadows
is so often true in life.

My mother was an artist and under her creative touch,
a blank canvas would become transformed with
majestic mountains, resplendent flowers and inviting landscapes.

My mother was also a teacher of life.
One day, she explained the importance of shadows
… shadows in art
… shadows in life.
“Shadows are just as integral as are the highlights.”

When life has become difficult,
I’ve often recalled her words and tried to remember that
in the dark, shadowy times of life,
when it seems as if the light
… of truth, of hope, of peace, of joy
are hidden
the shadows can be instructive
… as can be the joy-filled times.
Sometimes even more so.

When life’s mountains and valley moments arrive
I try to be patient and remember that
… plateaus *will* come
where I can breathe.

When the frosty moments and hostile people descend,
I try to be patient and remember that
… the sun *will* shine through.

“But, Mom, it’s a difficult lesson.
Every. Single. Time.”

The culture of “Be happy.  Be positive.
Think wealth and success will come to you”
is not just untrue.

It does a disservice
to those whose lives have been impacted by
financial set-backs, health issues, grief, addiction
unemployment, violence, divorce, lack of freedom,
abuse, poverty, mental illness.

Some say that such things are “sent”
by God as a *test.*

I could never believe in a God who
… creates babies born with medical complications
… ‘spares’ some in accidents/disasters while killing others
… arms terrorists who terrorize/maim/kill
… pollutes the atmosphere, water
… causes climate change
… chooses ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘how’, ‘where’ people die
… decides whose lives are devoured by disease, addiction, mental illness.

Some people think that Shadow Times
are to be gotten through quickly.
I don’t hold to such a belief.
I believe that such moments serve a purpose
and that by disregarding the challenges of life,
opportunities are lost.
… opportunities to make a difference in the world
… opportunities for personal growth

I seek to be positive and encouraging of others,
but at the same time,
because I won’t negate the realities of my life,
and because I won’t ignore the realities of the world around me.
I will speak out against and walk *in protest* of
… environmental issues
… injustice
… cruelty
… political ineptitude, conspiracy, deception.

I will speak out and walk *in support* of the rights
… of all human beings
… all animals
… this planet.

We live in Shadow Times.
Many are speaking out.
Many are marching.
Many are getting involved.
The words of my wise mother
“Shadows are just as integral as are the highlights.”
resonate deep within.

May these Shadow-Times
lead us into action, into involvement,
into opportunities to be a “channel of peace”
as St. Francis wisely counselled, so that
where there is hatred, we can feel and sow love;
where there is injury, we can offer receive and pardon;
where there is doubt, we can model faith;
where there is despair, we can be hope for others;
where there is darkness, we can bring a glimpse of light;
and where there is sadness, we can experience and share joy.



Photo & Text: © june maffin

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