Light and shadows


Sometimes there are details which appear repeatedly in a short time span of my life bringing together new meaning to me. It’s like when you take a lemon, sugar and water and prepare lemon juice from them. By taste, you can still distinguish the ingredients but you cannot separate them anymore and even their taste is not entirely the same. It is how it started with light and shadows this time.

I like Robert Ludlum and his spy stories and yesterday I finished reading the 3rd instalment of his Bourne series. I came across a sentence there: “Hugging the shadows of the successive storefronts, Jason crept slowly forward.” My breathing slowed down for a while as the words “hugging the shadows” got stuck in my mind. If I understood the shadows figuratively as those unpleasant episodes and circumstances cast on my life, would I be able to say that I know how to use them, accept them or even hug them? Sometimes that might be a condition for moving forward.

And just a few days ago I was watching an autobiographical film about Rembrandt and while browsing through a gallery of his paintings I was amazed – again – by the light and shadows in them. Many of Rembrandt’s paintings are quite dark. But in the paintings there is often a scene which looks like illuminated by bright yellow light of a spotlight. The light and shadows create impressive contrast in the painting. Without the shadows, the light wouldn’t have such effect.

While pondering over the light and shadows, I suddenly heard one of my favourite passages from the Bible (Ecclessiastes 3:1 – 3:8) in my mind, saying that

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

And I know that is the answer. For every matter there is a time. A time to enjoy the light and a time to accept the reality of the shadows. And without a shadow of a doubt, we need to accept this fact.

Let’s enjoy the light of Christmas time fully. It’s there to encourage us and bring peace to our souls and outweigh all the shadows we meet in our lives.



  1. …another lovely post Petra, I love the way you have illustrated the light and shadow with the photo and blending together the notion that time takes us into light and out of the darkness!

    Happy Holidays to you Petra!

  2. These are such beautiful and meaningful thoughts at this time of the year, Petra. Thank you.

    Eons ago I worked in a psychiatric hospital in a university town and discovered this is the time of the year when most patients are admitted. In fact, one professor’s wife apparently was admitted every year at this time…but was absolutely delightful. I think she knew she could not handle the “shadows” of the holidays and had sense enough to escape where she could be safe. We can’t all escape that way, of course, but I do believe if we understand there are these two sides of the coin, we might fare so much better!

    We're so lucky to have you one of us, dear Petra! Enjoy these last days of 2012.

  3. Anyes - Far Away In The Sunshine

    It seems during this time of year the shadows are a bit more visible being that the days are so short. This might be the reason we tend to focus a bit more on them. This post is such a great reminder to continue to see the light regardless of how dark it might seem outside. Beautiful words Petra Thank you for this 🙂

  4. Marcie

    Was just listening to an NPR show about this time of year being about coming out of the darkness and into the light. And – here you are – reminding us all once and again the power and beauty of it all. Thank-you!!!!

  5. Catherine

    What a beautiful refreshing image Petra! You have reminded me of my elderly neighbour who whenever we start to moan about anything or anyone together she says,…"well we will all end up the one way, nothing fairer and nothing surer"… and I agree we all just need to accept this fact, it can only enrich our present…

  6. Maery Rose

    Oh to be greeted by such a summery photo on a day beginning at 10 degrees F… I like your observation that without the shadows, the light wouldn't stand out so brightly. And I think without knowing many shadowy times, I would not be as creative in finding the slivers of glow and know how to create them myself on the days that are filled with a solid wall of clouds.

  7. Deborah

    This is a much needed message for me today, as this holiday season just is not bringing the joy that it usually does. Your words really touched on why…those dark shadows that seem to overtake the joy. Thank you for the reminder that we need those dark times to appreciate and enjoy the lighter times.

  8. Barbra

    Lovely refreshing image, Petra. And i agree with stopping in your tracks at the thought of hugging the shadows. What a different but insightful way to consider the dark spaces in our lives.

  9. Robin Aka Gotham Girl

    Wow Petra! What a thought provoking post! I do believe that shadows in our life makes us stronger…and I so agree…We need to accept the reality of it. Thank you!

  10. Kelly

    There is a word for this, in painting, chiaroscuro. It's always been one of my favorite words. Even after the darkest night, the sun always rises. These days, I think that is a good thing to remind ourselves about. A lovely post!

  11. Puna

    Reading all the posts of what Christmas means to each of us makes me with the season was longer or at least a little less busy so I can truly enjoy the true meaning of this holiday. Many blessings Petra!

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