"Shimmer and Shadow" (A Poem, P52 Photos, More)

“Shimmer and Shadow at the Blessingway”
Shimmer and Shadow
Epiphany dawns to blaze of day
Fiery sun and cooling shade
Then sunset glow
Seeping dusk
Star sparkle, honey gold of moon
Obscuring haze of deepening dark
Dark deep
Epiphany dawns
Hope rises on the horizon
My life is shimmer and shadow
Shadow and shimmer
A chiaroscuro portrait, clear and dark
The Artist draws and draws
Draws me into scenes of day and night
Draws me to himself in glimmerings and glimpses
There is still life
I am still here
I am here and so is He
In shimmer and shadow
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” Isaiah 60:2
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.   My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:148
“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night… the Lord is his name.” Amos 5:8
“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.” Psalm 148:3
“My heart is steadfast, O God’ I will sing and make music with all my soul.  Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” Psalm 108:1-2
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.  Because you are my help,  I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:7
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“… because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” Malachi 4:2a
I wrote most of “Shimmer and Shadow” in my head while lying in bed in the wee hours of this morning, then tiptoeing out into the still chill dark, awaiting the sunrise in my SHINE nightshirt.  

It is 6:36 AM now, and dawn has not yet come, but I know it will.  I am still waiting.

Over the past several months, I have been reading from Luci Shaw’s Breath for the Bones – Art, Imagination and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith. (See also here: Is My Head in the Clouds? and Ivory and Gray and Books I’m Reading in 2012) Luci is a poet and her book helps me write.  (I even borrowed the words chiaroscuro and epiphanyfrom her.) Of course I was amused yesterday to open to the next chapter: “Understanding the Shadow Side of Creativity.”  She writes what I know by experience: that God sometimes seems hidden, life dark.  She knows this too, and continued to write from the shadows after the death of her husband Harold, a Christian book publisher. Christian contemplatives of centuries past have written of “the dark night of the soul” and “the Cloud of Unknowing” and “the winter of the heart.”  This is so. 

 “And we are supposed to trust our lives to this enigma? … We yearn for union with God, for the sense of safety and belonging.  What we often experience instead is frustration and aloneness.”  p. 151 

“Often, however, art is veiled — couched in clues and symbols, a shadow that touches reality, that gives us a glimpse of the indescribable, that invites us farther up and farther in.  It will not always show all of itself or the whole truth at one viewing, nor will it preach a four-point sermon.  But if we are willing to gift it our full attention, art will being to open our inner eyes.” p. 154  

“But truth isn’t always pleasant.  Christians who practice art must not always feel bound to produce sweetness and light.  We have to recognize the darkness and shadow as well as the light, and realize that God is not dark and evil, but he embodies mystery.  Sometimes God withdraws and leaves us in the dark — and we can learn to view it as an instructive and salutary phase of life.  It’s not pleasant, but we discover things in the dark that we couldn’t find in the light.” p. 161

In the back of Breath for the Bones is a suggested reading list.  I find on it The Weather of the Heart, a poetry book by Madeleine L’Engle, the beloved author of the novel A Wrinkle in Time.  By happy happenstance it already is on my shelf, a serendipitous find that I wasn’t seeking.  (While Christmas shopping for my children, I bought it for my sister, a lifelong L’engle fan, and I haven’t yet sent it for her birthday this month.  It has been waiting.)  I look on the dedication page: “To Harold and Luci.”  Published by Shaw.  The first poem, page one:

“Within This Strang
e and Quickened Dust” 

O God, within this strange and quickened dust
The beating heart controls the coursing blood
In discipline that holds in check the flood
But cannot stem corrosion and dark rust.
In flesh’s solitude I count it blest

That only you, my Lord, can see my heart
With passion’s darkness tearing it apart
With storms of self, and tempests of unrest.
But your love breaks through blackness, bursts with light;
We separate ourselves, but you rebind
In Dayspring all our fragments: body, mind,
And spirit join, unite against the night.
Healed by your love, corruption and decay
Are turned, and whole, we greet the light of day.

It is 6:56 now, dawn here, sun rising, mourning doves cooing.  “We greet the light of day.”

“Shadows” is the theme of this week’s P52 photo project, so I have been photographing them for the past several days.  Looking makes you aware.

My first tries, from Mary’s Blessingway (baby shower) celebration (see Weekend Gratitude: Blessingway for Mary).  I love the shimmer and the shadow of light through the prism of the punch bowl reflecting on the lace table cloth.

The rest from nature.  Again, Luci Shaw: 

“While creativity sometimes begins with seemingly random moments, it also sometimes begins with moments of epiphany. For me, this has a lot to do with being in touch with the creative world, where sometimes, I am almost literally lifted out of myself… There is something about green and growing things that absolutely clutches at me; nature becomes like a second Bible.”

Pink Sunrise
Pink Sunrise Clouds and Silhouette of Trees
Daytime Clouds: Shimmer and Shadow

Sunset with Clouds and Palms 

These tree photos were taken at the east end of the soccer field at Metro Life Church, where our home school co-op meets.   We had taken the 1st-3rd grade science class out for recess. I immediately e-mailed the photos from my iPod camera to my laptop and showed them to my 7th-8th grade English class during the next period.  I encouraged them to be aware of their surroundings and let God’s creation be an inspiration for their writing.

Up and Up

Leaning against the trunk
looking straight up at the fanning branches, sun glow

The light shimmering through the needles
makes me think of a fiber optic Christmas tree

Spanish moss 

Bare branches except at the tippy top tuft

Branches Cast Shadows on the Trunk

Red leaves

Same Tree Close Up, Hollow Trunk
Roots (Looking Down Instead of Up)

Down Again:
Even Blades of Grass Cast Shadows
Shadows on drain pipe
At home again

Cracked Stepping Stone in the Side Yard

Melody with Long Shadow

Shadow Play

Grace in the shadows, my friends
Virginia Knowles

project 52 p52 my3boybarians.com


About virginiaknowles

I am a mother and grandmother of a huge family, and I still home school my youngest daughter. I write to stay sane. My WordPress blog is a combination of my Blogspot blogs, and may not be continually updated.
This entry was posted in Art~Beauty~Creativity, Authentic Life, Bible~Theology, Books and Authors, Breath for the Bones, God's Good Creation, P52 Photo Project, Photographs, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to "Shimmer and Shadow" (A Poem, P52 Photos, More)

  1. Donna says:

    Your stepping stone crack is a star, and so is the last picture of your little girl.

  2. You are right, Donna! Thanks for making that connection for us!

  3. tonia says:

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your post with me. I love Luci Shaw…she's such an inspiration for the poet hidden in me. 🙂

  4. donna says:

    I thought you might be interested to know that I knew Luci and Harold Shaw and attended a Bible study in their house when I was at Wheaton. I met them because my piano teacher was living with them for a time. Luci is everything she seems like she would be from her writings. I really enjoyed her, and although I didn't know Harold well, I found him also very nice. One evening Harold learned that it was my 21st birthday so he insisted that Luci break out a dessert she had made for something and give me an impromptu party. I'll always remember him for that. I was there before and during the time he was diagnosed with cancer, but I left Wheaton before he passed away. Madeleine L'Engle came through Wheaton while I was there as well and she stayed with the Shaws while she did workshops at the college. I attended her workshops, but didn't really get to meet her, although I sure wanted to! It brought back all those memories when I read your newsletter.

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