Shade and Shadow –
Most of the week there have been rain clouds hovering low and blocking the sun from view. The rain has been needed and I am thankful but today is sunny, mostly blue skies and I am thankful for it as well.
When I mow the grass and weed I like to have my phone and ear buds playing music to help block out the noise. I select my preferred playlist and off I go. However, as the sun blazed today it was hard to see the screen to pick the songs. I had to turn my back towards the sun and use myself as a shade to see the phone’s screen.
Our yard isn’t huge but it’s big enough to require two hours worth of mowing plus two hours worth of weeding. Even though it wasn’t especially hot today when I finally finished the weeding portion I sat down under the shade of the large Oak tree in our front yard and enjoyed some water and Gatorade.
The quote in the picture (attached) is that; “We stand in our own shadow and wonder why it’s dark.” and it resonated with me today because of being outside using my shadow and enjoying some shade. Earlier in the week, it was storm clouds which shaded the sun from being seen and today it seemed nothing could block its radiance.
In our lives, there are times of shade and shadow when the light we are looking for is hidden. We make our way the best we can and trust the light will find us again. There are also seasons when the light is bright and easy to follow. For both of these, we give thanks because we wouldn’t appreciate one without the other.
Last week I posted about a rat that had gotten stuck in a hole in the bottom of one of our outdoor trash cans. Today, as I was collecting the trash from the same bin there was a large mouse in the bottom who could fit through the hole and did so. He didn’t get very far but another movement caught my eye. In the back of the storage place where we keep the trash cans, I saw a patch of brown fur and thought another rat had made its way into the area and needed to be “taken care of“.
However, as I looked closer, I saw it was a large Hedgehog hiding in the corner. He wasn’t something that could be rid of so easily and our Siberian Husky, who’s killed his fair share, was off in another part of the yard. I wondered if he was able to get in the storage area but not out so I opened the door as far as it would go and left. Hopefully, it will get the hint and leave.
As I reflected on the Hedgehog I also thought about self-awareness. It’s the discipline of truly knowing and seeing ourselves, understanding what we do well and what we need to improve. Oftentimes, we become focused on the smaller challenges and don’t see the biggest area of improvement we need to make. True self-awareness reveals the largest issue, hidden behind all the smaller things, which needs to be brought out into the light.
Out of the Way –
One of the fathers I met with today told me about a hiking spot not far from where we live. I hadn’t heard of the trail or the waterfall it leads to until he said he hiked it this past weekend. “Getting there was easy, all downhill. Coming back, however, is a different story.” We’ve lived here for almost two years and I’m still discovering new places to go and sights to see.
Life is similar, the paths we walk are filled with experiences and surprises. Sometimes what we’re looking for is close but our journey towards it isn’t.
Similarly, the way of grace and wisdom isn’t straight either. There are seasons and times we must go out-of-the-way in order to find the fastest route. It doesn’t make sense but it’s the paradoxical trail we call life.
Our way may not be straight but if we trust the path it will lead us to where we need to go.
This morning I had to pull up a part of the porch we’ve been working on. The problem was that a particular spot was weak. If you didn’t step in the particular place one would never notice the “give” but when you hit it just right there was no missing the lack of stability. I unscrewed the section of flooring and discovered there wasn’t cross beam to aid the support of this portion. So, I added a couple of two by fours, dropped the wood floor back in place, added a few extra screws and; “viola!” no more weak spot.
Reflecting on the weak spot I thought about the areas of weaknesses in our own lives. Sometimes the vulnerable places are well-known to us and those who care for us. These are hurts, habits, and hangups, which are easily visible and not difficult to find. Then there are those hidden areas that unless the precise place is touched, a name is mentioned, temptation beckons, fragility exposed, we give, perhaps even believe in, an image of strength and control.
Knowing and adding support for our vulnerable areas takes first a willingness to see the soft spots and allow others to view them as well. Then, in humbleness, we seek guidance in how best to make strong areas which are weak. Many times our frailties are revealed to us by others. Though we may be uncomfortable with others knowing our flaws, defects and shortcomings, many times it is the keen eye, and strong support of a friend, that helps put us on the road to true inner wisdom and strength.
Company is coming and Spring cleaning makes for hard work. This weekend we’ve been cleaning in anticipation of a couple of my wife’s family arriving for a visit. Part of my to-do list was making the dog’s room presentable. Not an easy job but not overwhelming until I climbed on a stool to clean the top of the refrigerator located in the room. “Yikes!” So much dust and dog hair. What a mess. After a big; “sigh!” I got to work and now it’s nice and shiny, squeaky clean. I spot clean the dog’s room regularly but since the refrigerator is taller than me I never look up on top.
Life is similar. We focus on certain visible areas but the harder to reach places, the not seen so often places, we ignore. Wisdom teaches us that we are to examine every part of our lives and keep even the hidden places clean.