Don’t let the shadow diminish the substance.
Ground fog moved in wisps. Though nothing but a vapor, it blurred the sturdy, massive oak tree which has stood for ages. My initial focus was the full moon, brilliant and unobstructed, reflecting borrowed light from the sun. Like a muse, it caused my quirky mind to search for a prayer I read in years past:
“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon…what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know you God because I am in the way.”
O’Connor’s prayer is brief, humble, and insightful. The conflict of substance versus shadow acted as her muse. A spiritual metaphor emerged. Then, a brief prayer, powered by a different kind of light, divine truth, blazed away the shadow. Flannery O’Connor was awakened to a truth not yet mastered, and a ruse that was mastering her. A shadow, not someone else’s, but her own, was the obstacle to seeing God for who He is. O’Connor had no light of her own. It was only because of God’s reflected light we even cast a shadow! Humbly and eloquently her prayer admits that self, so fleeting, so shifting, and but a mere shadow, could grow so large it blocked out the reality of God. Her confession is an admission we all must conclude: I do not know you God because I am in the way.
For me, the beautiful picture, and the recalled prayer, like a muse, piqued my mind and soul to remember and reflect and confess. Like the ground fog and shadows, we dissipate in a moment. God, like the oak, remains. Don’t let the shadow diminish the substance.