This Lent during our Sunday morning sermons we will be focusing on the spiritual theme of “shadows.” Shadows are funny things, are they not? We think of shadows as the absence of light – places where light does not shine, or places where light is obscured. But in reality, shadows are directly caused because of shining light. Without light, there cannot be shadow. Similarly, we here in South Florida are well aware of the blessings shadows and shade can provide. We are not far from those dog days of summer in which the merit of a parking space is not measured by its proximity to the store, but by its immersion in blessed shade.
From a spiritual perspective, the mystic doctors of the church have often reflected at great length on the spiritual reality of darkness, night, or shadow. Moments of spiritual darkness are often times and places in which God’s presence seems to be obscured from us, moments in which we undergo great trial, temptation, loss, suffering, or questioning. The moments of our spiritual journey in which we feel like we are in the shadows are the ones that feel like they will break us and that our faith will be smashed against the proverbial rocks. And to be sure, these shadow-moments will forever change us. When we walk through the shadows of life’s journey we emerge different from when we began. A faith that survives its time in the shadows is a faith that has matured, that has stared unbelief in the face, and a faith that has now made room for questions, doubt, and lack of surety. It is a faith that remains, although vastly transformed. Our times in the shadows are most likely the most painful moments in our life, but they are also the times in which our spirituality progresses the deepest —not necessarily while we are in the shadows, but when we emerge.
So this Lent, in the spirit of reflection, contrition, and repentance, we will enter the shadows of our spiritual lives and explore some of the various expressions these shadows take in the Scriptures.