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Home » Miscellaneous

Shadows and Light

Submitted by on August 31, 2008 – 4:03 amNo Comment | 2,862 views

It was one of those frustrating mornings when the sun seemed unable to decide whether to shine or not. It was quite frustrating, you know sunglasses on, sunglasses off, I’m sure you have all been there.  The sunshine brings joy to the heart, the promise of a day that looms ahead. The clouds then set in and blanket the day in gloom. The sunglasses render the road dark and must quickly be removed; the day’s cheer has disappeared.

This occurred as I was driving along the I81 in Up State New York. The vista of rolling hills and majestic peaks as always inspires me and as usual I found it difficult to keep my eyes on the road. I noticed that the sun did not discriminate between the peaks and the valleys, at times the valleys were aglow in sunlight while the peaks were bathed in shadow and at times the reverse was true. A thought popped into my mind.

Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Some days everything goes well and those are the peaks, whereas other days are valleys when nothing seems to work. Sometimes the peaks and valleys follow each other in quick succession and at times they each last for a while. We expect the good days to bring happiness and fulfillment and the valleys to trigger frustration and despair. Yet here I was surprised because the valleys were bathed in sunshine while the peaks were in the shadows. In life the same is true. It is not only the peaks that bring sunshine, sometimes it is the valley.

It is often in the valley that we discover the light. Encountering our limitations and recognizing that we cannot solve everything by ourselves; sometimes we must depend on others can actually be comforting. It can be a relief to learn that we don’t have to fix everything that is broken. It is a relief to learn that it is ok to ask for help. This humble acknowledgement opens a new chamber within us that enable us to rise above ourselves and truly experience the warmth and light of humanity,

Another Thought:

It is the interchange of valleys and peaks that enables us to appreciate and aspire to the peaks. Sitting on the peak day and night loses its appeal. I remember when living in California people complained about the lack of the winter season. I live in Canada now and wish for a perpetual summer. Yet it is only because of the winter that I appreciate the warmth of the summer. So too in life, it is only through the valleys that we learn to appreciate the peaks. Sometimes the peaks are blanketed in darkness while the valleys are aglow with light.

The Chassidic masters taught the sun is a metaphor for G-d and the clouds are a metaphor for the veil drawn across His face at the moment of creation. Our relationship with G-d as our father is reflected in the light of the sun. Our relationship with G-d as our Lord is reflected through the shadows. Yet G-d and the Lord are one. “I am G-d your Lord.

Nature was not grappling with itself that morning. The sun was not wrestling with the clouds on the question of whether to shine. Nature was working its magic through the interplay of the sun and the clouds. G-d shows His love and conceals it. He treats us as children and as subjects. The interplay between the two creates the tension that enables growth. The peaks are intended to promote growth. The valleys are intended to inspire growth. It is the same loving G-d who orchestrates the two. It is not a struggle between two forces, it is the process we call life and it is the medium through which we grow.