Shadow and Light in this Lenten Season

Most of us are well aware of the interplay of shadow and light. The season of Lent invites us into being attentive to those shadows, both in our world and lives, with the belief that God’s spirit inhabits those places, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Here’s a poem by John O’Donohue that explores that reality:


For Light

Light cannot see inside things.

That is what the dark is for:

Minding the interior,

Nurturing the draw of growth

Through places where death

In its own way turns into life.


In the glare of neon times,

Let our eyes not be worn

By surfaces that shine

With hunger made attractive.


That our thoughts may be true light,

Finding their way into words

Which have the weight of shadow

To hold the layers of truth.


That we never place our trust

In minds claimed by empty light,

Where one-sided certainties

Are driven by false desire.


When we look into the heart,

May our eyes have the kindness

And reverence of candlelight.


That the searching of our minds

Be equal to the oblique Crevices and corners where

The mystery continues to dwell,

Glimmering in fugitive light.


When we are confined inside

The dark house of suffering

That moonlight might find a window.


When we become false and lost

That the severe noon-light

Would cast our shadow clear.


When we love, that dawn-light

Would lighten our feet Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight

Would illuminate treasure

In the fields of memory.


And when we come to search for God,

Let us first be robed in night,

Put on the mind of morning

To feel the rush of light

Spread slowly inside

The color and stillness Of a found word.


~ John O’Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)



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