Joy in the Shadows

There is nothing real in our past –

regardless of how disappointing or painful it may have been –

that can grab us and make us its prisoner.

shadow figure











The possibilities of that ever happening are no more likely

than that a dark shadow would have the power to hold onto you and keep you

from walking into the sunlight.




Claim the Higher Vantage Point of Conscious living.


What do I mean by that statement?

I will recount a story that perfectly illustrates what I mean by “claim the Higher Vantage Point of Conscious living”.
A father once took his young daughter to a nearby old growth forest. He knew that the stillness and beauty of the massive trees would work their enchantment on her, as it had always done upon him.
And he was right; her little heart was at home in the quiet depths of these ancient trees. All was well for the first several moments, but then something broke into the peace of the place.

Old Growth Forest, Sol Duc Valley






As they walked farther into the forest, he could see that his daughter was becoming overwhelmed.
She would be looking at a particular tree when the sun would pass behind a cloud, giving rise to a great shadow that would move through the woods. Everywhere dark shapes stretched out, as if to touch her, and then the light would shift, creating motion somewhere else.
On and off went this shadow show, so that one minute she would be absolutely captured with enthusiasm for the beauty of the light, and the next minute she would be scared by the encroaching shadows.

As her emotional state escalated, her father realized that her limited understanding was not enough to correct the developing negative condition within her. And so, taking action before she became any more frightened, he took his little girl by the hand.

“Come on, sweetheart,” he said, and they walked back out of the forest and headed for the place where he knew a special lesson awaited her.
They walked hand-in-hand for twenty minutes or so, got outside the trees, and climbed a gentle hill to its crest where they could get a panoramic view of the forest. They sat down on the edge of the little bluff together and quietly looked down on the woods spread out beneath them.

panoramic trees










What a magical sight!
The little girl saw dozens of shadows caused by the clouds as they moved beneath the sun.
She saw that the sunlight was passing over the crown of the forest and was creating tree shadows within the woods that reached out and then raced back into nothingness.
She saw the whole of the forest and its invisible relationship with the world around it.
Wordlessly, she realized that no event happened by itself.
And most importantly, from her new vantage point, none of the things that had troubled her within the forest troubled her now.
She grew very still. Peace returned to her.
Her new view of reality had granted her this gift.
From that day on, whenever they went to the woods, she was no longer afraid.

(That story was from Guy Finley’s book, “Let Go and Live in the Now”)


We, too, have within us a new, higher vantage point 






A very special part of ourselves within which we may be at peace regardless of what goes on around us.

I have suffered many heart breaks and tragedies in my lifetime.

There were long periods of my life where I was completely paralyzed with fear because of the situation I was living in.
I was a lot like the little girl in the story.
I would have moments where I could catch a glimpse of the beauty of life…
But then almost as soon as I perceived beauty, it was snatched away and replaced by “the encroaching shadows”.
It took me hitting the very bottom of my downward spiral before I was able to find my way out of the fear and into the light.

I will be forever grateful for my “trip into the forest” because, like that little girl, I can now sit on top of the hill and look down into my past, and recognize the shadows for what the really are…

Distant memories.
Memories that can never hurt me again,

unless I animate them and give them renewed life through my own emotions.

reanimate memories











I have heard lots of different terms for the place that I am in right now.
One term is conscious self-awareness.
Another one is Living in the FLOW.
But what you decide to call this state of mind isn’t important.
The importance is found through its power.

Instead of being pulled down into painful identification with the passing shadows of life,

we can discover a life in a peace far above the reach of any fear.
What does God have to say about living life in fear?

(James 1:2-4).  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”
James said, “Consider it pure joy…”.  The word “consider” is sometimes translated “count it” because a secondary meaning of the Greek word has to do with taking a count or estimating a total – like an accountant taking inventory.

God says that when trials of all kinds come into our lives, we should do a calculation that adds all the troubles together and esteem them as the source of joy. 

Does that sound contradictory?

  Of course it does.

Followers of Christ see trouble as a road map to spiritual maturity, and therefore, we can consider trials as a source of joy (v. 4).

trials into joy










We are not rejoicing because we have trials,

but because the trials can help us become more complete in our

walk with Christ.



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