Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sun and Shade

When I was a kid, we used to play a game called "Sun and Shade." It was only possible on those extraordinary summer days when school was out, the clouds were high, and the wind was strong.

The game consisted of a race from a shady patch in the neighborhood (point A) to another shady patch (point B) up the hill. You could move anywhere, run in any direction, as long as your feet were touching shade. Under trees, shrubs, the shadow of a mailbox, a car, a trash can.... all were like stepping stones on the way to the coveted Goal. If you ever stepped into the Light, you were "fried," and back to the Starting Place you ran.

My favorite part of the game was when a massive bank of cloud would race across the face of the sun, and a half dozen kids would bolt like mad up the hill before the shade fell over us again; screaming, arms flailing, laughing, leaping up to land at the last second into the shady patch of a tree when the sun came out again. Ah, youth!

Let's Get Spiritual

Now if you are like me, you wouldn't mind a little experience of the Divine once in a while (or how about every second?) as we make our Monday to Friday runs from the Shade into the Sun of a weekend. By experience of the Divine, I mean a glimmer of eternity in time, a sense of peace even in the midst of tragedy, or a strong dose of Warm Love, the kind Van the Man sings about:

Look at the ivy on that old clinging wall. Look at the flowers and the green grass so tall. It's not a matter of when push comes to shove. It's just an hour on the wings of a dove... Its just warm love... And its ever present everywhere... That warm love.
- Van Morrison

Now mind you, I'm not talking about gooey "religious feelings" - it's a heightened awareness of the Sacrament of the Present Moment. In the old spiritual classic of Brother Lawrence, it's the Practice of the Presence of God. For us kids growing up on 'ole Jefferson Street, even the Sun and Shade invited us into the Dance, into the vision that the Universe was made superfluously, for us, for FUN. It's meant to be as transparent as stained glass. That's the definition of a sacrament. A visible sign that houses a spiritual reality. Maybe that's why the saints were so crazy, so happy, even in the Shade of Suffering; the cold darkness seemingly devoid of the Sun. They praised even there, oftentimes especially there! They knew, in the immortal words of that little redhead Annie, that the Sun "would come out tomorrow" - or at least eventually...

So look at the ivy on that old clinging wall, look at the flowers and the green grass so tall. Look at the suffering with its power to shape. It's all Warm Love... and it's ever present everywhere.
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