Skip to main content

Shadow Stories

The sermon today was from Hebrews 7 and 8, which say that the tabernacle and the sacrificial system and the law and the old covenant were but a shadow and a copy of what is real. To explain to us what we cannot see, to reveal our hidden hearts and unveil the loftiest and most invisible sanctuary of heaven, God painted us a picture. He sang us a song. He wafted incense and let us watch the blood drain from innocent lambs.

This is the God who speaks our language. He teaches us in human terms.

I spent all my high school years trying confusedly to prove that art and beauty were necessary. I needed them to be necessary, because they were the only things that enabled me to make sense of life and they were the only things that held out the promise of something better. In fact, I went to college in the vain hope that there I would find the final proof, the answers to my questions.

But I lost those old lovely dreams--partly for the good reason that they were my idols. I didn't have a real god, so I had to worship those. The path I followed when all those gods tumbled down is a story in itself. My point here is to say that when, out of the nothingness, God spoke, I started over with only Him. But He, I soon learned, also contained those other things.

I am beauty, He said, as I watched the Atlantic Ocean touch the rocks by the Bar Harbor Shore Path last June. I am truth, He's been insisting, as I revel in the hard clarity of reality: renewed health, the ability to wash dishes, the draining challenges of family life, the ever unknown future. I tell stories--that's what I heard today, and it elated me. I feel like I've been handed back something I thought I'd never see again, and now I know the true value of it.


Motokeb said…
Always glad when one of my friends shares good news, and all the more so when that good news touches all of us. Just wanted to let you know I read this and gave God thanks. Those are encouraging words, thank you for sharing.
john said…
I've been frantically trying to organize a mass of tangled thoughts lately that touches on what you've expressed. I think I understand it better, having read your post.

C.S. Lewis had a similar idea which he expressed very succinctly in his essay, Myth Became Fact. It is the core of his personal apologetic, I think. I believe Lewis was converted primarily because he discovered that God tells stories...and then makes them come true.

A little more tangentially, you might skim Leslie Newbigin's book, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture. He argues that a successful missionary encounter with a foreign culture must recognize and imitate what Saul experienced on the Damascus Road: a voice in the Hebrew language--his native tongue. God does indeed teach us in human terms. That is the essence of the mystery we call the Incarnation.

Thank you for the insight!
AvocadoDiva said…'re always stealing my thoughts that I can't express verbally. THANK YOU. :-) Once again God's got us on parallel tracks and it's been a joy learning through what you're learning from Him.
sarah said…
God is truth! God is beauty! Amen! That is precisely the joy I found on my path through the valley of the shadow as well.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Waste Time When You Could Be Watching a Zombie Movie

Today I read one of those horrible articles that the internet seems to have been designed for, consisting of 40 tips for becoming as successful as the author: "How to Live a Full Life (and Leave Nothing on the Table) by 30." Yes, that's really the title. Normally I wouldn't publish a blog post in response, but because I managed to Come Down with a Chronic Illness (and Achieve Basically Nothing Else) by 30 and Am Currently Feeling the Aftereffects of One of the Treatments I Periodically Take, Which Causes Me to Feel High and Lose My Inhibitions, I'm just going to go for it. (Author's point #33: "Seriously, You Can Do Whatever You Want." Why thank you, young man, I think I will!)

The author's name is Ryan Holiday, and he has published several books. It sounds like he is also very wealthy, because note point #15, "Sooner Is Not Better," where he says he had a weird goal of becoming a millionaire by 25, but it didn't happen until after

Me Eve, You Adam

Recently a male friend read Paradise Lost, as part of a book group that was predominately women. How I would have loved to be a fly on that wall.

I told him what I always say to people reading Milton for the first time: He was an incredible poet, but a horrible man who portrayed the mother of all humanity as a bimbo, perpetuating an offensive stereotype as some sort of religious reality. Oh, don't get me started on this guy. I become incoherent talking about him.

After the book club meeting, my friend texted me: You were right about Milton's Eve!

I laughed for a long time at that. Then I got to thinking. What if Eve had been created first, Adam had sinned first, and Milton had been a woman?
Reverse Paradise Lost Note: Since I could not hope to parody Milton's splendid poetry, I have written this in play form. Please imagine that what follows is an excerpt of an entire work. Book II. Eve: I have completed my monumental task of naming all the animals, and I have greatly enjoy…

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Ever since I was six or so, I have battled alarm clocks. They've jolted me awake. I've turned them off. I've hit snooze. I've gone back to sleep. I've tried to awaken myself gently with the classical music station or Aaron Copland CDs. No matter what, I can't get out of bed when the alarm says I should.

When I was a child, my father and I would race after the school bus. As an adult, I was chronically late for work. I'm not a morning person. I don't sleep well and rarely feel rested. Lymies don't feel well in the mornings anyway, and it didn't help that I'm easily startled and was being shocked awake each day with the equivalent of those paddles they use on heart attack victims. All morning I'd feel groggy and queasy and antsy, with adrenaline pumping through me.

A couple years ago I got sick and had to stay home from work for a few days. When I was ready to get back to the office, I took it easy for a few alarm-clock-free mornings while…