As I prepare for the first Sunday of Lent – this season of reflection on our lives and our habits, on our temptations and our struggles that comes with the hope we will find redemption in a leap of faith, and in the grace of making changes – I dug out this bowl given to us as a wedding present. I need it for the liturgy we’ll use starting Sunday to mark the season each week until Easter.
The liturgical colour of Lent is purple and I knew I had a purple bowl; what I’d forgotten was the sun-like image on the inside.
And placing the ceramic bowl on the wooden table in the sunlight, shadows and reflections come into play. What are our lives but the movement between places of light and places of dark? What are our lives but the weaving of sparkles and shadows? Joy and grief, celebration and mourning, laughing and crying, holding on and letting go.
While always at the edges, thin yet bright, is love.
It reminds me of the significance of our rituals, how we do certain things at certain times as a way of making a connection with something or someone – like energy or spirit. By placing this bowl in the sunlight, it becomes infused with the strength of the sun but also the strength of the shadows.
When I first embarked on that long-ago journey of divorce and caregiving, when I felt like I would live in the shadows of brokenness for longer than I could bear, I came across a quote that became a beacon of peace in those difficult years: Ruth Renkel said, “Do not fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light is shining somewhere nearby.”
Let’s remember to turn our eyes away from the deepest gloom towards the light. It may take some time for our journey to take us close to that light, for that light to strengthen and those shadows shrink, for us to find rebirth and renewal, but it’s important to remember what the shadows mean.
There will be times of struggle, of loss, of lament. There will be times when we are forced to take a hard look at our living and find the courage to make a change. There will be times when our bowl is empty…
…yet even along the edges, there will be sparkles. A glint of hope. A twinkle of joy. A glimmer of something yet to come.
Even if it’s just oranges.