“Shadows”—- a short story about each of us somewhere along our journey


I wrote this modern day parable as a person living between two worlds. If you are a believer you too live between worlds.

SHADOWS

He was lost in thought so he did not notice as  I approached the park bench. The man was a stranger to me but by all accounts he would be similar to the rest I had met at this very place. My presence brought him out of his daydream.

“Mister, mind if I sit here by you? Feet could use a break for a minute or two.”

“Sit, sit. It is a good day to enjoy the view. I was just daydreaming about how good I have it.”

I noticed his pressed suit and straight posture. “Absolutely. You look like you have put in the time and hours it takes to make something of yourself. Nice to see results, correct?”

“I’ve done pretty well for myself.  I have everything I ever set my mind on to get. Health, a good wife, children who worship me, a job that fulfills me, and money in my pocket.”

I nod not out of being impressed but out of confirmation of what is easy to perceive. “Certainly you have everything a man could want. What does a man that has all that do for an encore? If I might ask?”

“Oh it’s fine. I like talking about it. It’s true I have all that I could want but my work is far from over. Far from over. It never really ends to be honest.”

“Really? Why is that? Can you not sit back and enjoy all these things you have worked so hard to get? Seems a shame?”

“Ha! Now of course I can sit back for a moment but only a moment. I could lose what I have if I were to just rest as you say. Only a fool would do that. Plus I could always use more of what I already have. No rest for the weary.”

I gazed at the man, seeing into his soul.  I said, “I see…but you don’t, if I might say so dear sir… you don’t really SEE, that is.”

“I don’t see what… Oh, I got where your going with this conversation.” He waved his finger at me in admonition an smiled. “You have flipped this nice chat on me. You mean to trip me up with some philosophy. Saying I don’t see is your way of saying I ‘m a fool in some way. Sounds more like your envious of what I have.”

“Sir, please, I don’t desire to upset you. I simply make a statement of what is very obvious to me. Would you not consider a moment what I have to say?”

The man started to get angry. “And what might be so obvious to you that it would somehow allude my notice then? Let’s hear your angle on what it is you think I don’t see. Be quick about it so I can go back to enjoying my peace and quiet.”

“Well sir I already in fact have made my observation to you. You can’t SEE.”

He stood up, “See? Have you gone mad my friend? What could I possibly not be seeing? I observe everything around me. I am a man of detail. This is how I have achieved so much. You think this happened by chance? I am no fool!”

I stayed seated and waited a moment for him to sit back down. “Yes, you have achieved very much. No denying that. And you do see… what you are able. Given your condition and all.”

“Condition? What are you diagnosing me with?”

“Your ability to perceive what is real of course. You think you see but you only see in shadow. It deceives you into thinking you see clearly but you have never seen without the confines of that veil of yours.”

He touched the thin layer of material fixed permanently over his eyes by the metal brace that went from ear to ear. “I can see fine. Deceives me? What shadow? You talk in code to trip me up. What’s your point here?”

“I apologize for upsetting you. Anger is often the reaction I get when confronting a man with such a shocking truth. As I said, you have only ever been able to see in shadow. It’s all you’ve known. You were born that way. And you will die that way… but you don’t have too stay that way.”

“What gibberish is this? I see like every other person. What do you mean I don’t have to stay this way?”

“You don’t have to stay like every other person. You don’t have to see in shadow any longer. You can see everything without that device. You can see in the light, though I warn you, it will shock you to your very core when you do. Things will look very different to you in the light.”

“You are mad! You waste my time with this talk. You going to tell me next you can remove this thing from my eyes? That’s where your going right? Why? So I become a mockery to society and lose everything I hold dear… Oh I do see now. Did you remove yours? Others have done that I hear. Look how they are rejected. Is that what you would have me be… an outcast like you?”

I sat for a moment remembering. The man stirred and brought me back to the moment. “It is hard for me to remember that man I was with the veil still intact. You are correct. My eyes have been uncovered but not by me. I needed someone much greater than me to do that. I was a lot like you once. I knew what it was to have so much. To conquer my world.”

He slowly shook his head at me with a mock smile on his face. “And now? Now, you have lost it all, haven’t you? You wretched man. The misery you have brought on yourself is not enough for you? You need company?”

I shake my head, “But you do not yet understand. I too mocked others who were without the veil. But I could not shake the fact that something was missing in my life. When I would achieve that thing I wanted so desperately, I quickly lost focus of it in need of something greater. It did not hold my sight for long. I was unsettled. Something was not right. There had to be more to life.”

“Unsettled huh? You were not happy with the things you had earned? Why were you not content? What more did you want?”

“It was not wanting more in the way you perceive it now. It was more about realization. Awakening to what all those things really were. They were shadows. Dark, faded things that never brought real joy. No matter how many things I got, the shadows around them never faded. It left me hungering for more than it could give me.”

I had his attention. After a moment he asked, “You must not have been able to secure all the things you once had correct?”

“In that you could not be further from the truth. As I recall I had much, much more than you do now. That was, in fact, when I realized it. It would never matter how much I had. I would never truly SEE. And I would never know the joy I longed for until I could SEE.”

At that we both sat silently for a moment staring ahead. He broke the silence, “Alright, I’ll bite. What did you do?”

“The only desperate thing left to do. I sought help outside man’s understanding and I found it. I found wisdom that showed me the way. The veil from my eyes had to be removed.”

He grabbed the device over his eyes. “That’s crazy man! The pain alone of that? It must have been excruciating! And how could you see clearly without the veil?”

“The pain was immense. It hurt all the way to the depths of my soul. It left a scar that will always be there. My need for the veil was very deep. Everything changed when it was removed. I could no longer see the things the way you perceive them now. The light is bright and it brought these things out of the shadows. Work, money, even family— it all changed for me.”

“What a crazy story you weave. You must have lost your mind? Misery must taunt you. Why would you sacrifice all of this? And why would you tell me about it now as if I want that?”

“Oh, but you miss my point completely. I no longer care the same way for those things. The shadow blinds you to their true nature. Some things have been made beautiful as the shadows are now removed, like my wife and kids. Other things are exposed in all their ugliness. Oh the power of sight! Some of the things I see now are glorious! I would tell you about them but you would call me crazier than you already have. You’ve only known shadow. I’ve seen the sun!”

“But you gave up so much for better clarity? I will admit… You have raised my curiosity. I might even say I’m intrigued. But I could never go through the pain of removing my veil only to know I would be ridiculed by society. To see all that I have gained threatened… It’s too much.”

I stared at him, deep compassion welling up in me. “But friend. What have you really gained? You know only fleeting feelings of happiness. These shadowy things don’t bring you lasting peace. You know I’m right! You know deep down something is missing. You have always known it though you pursue these things still. Will you truly be ok to continue in that delusion of happiness now that you know there might be true joy out there?

He broke eye contact with m then. He started at his feet. “I envy you sir. I thought you were crazy, but you have convinced me you really have found something… Extraordinary. But the cost for me is too great. I cannot remove my veil. To do so promises fears that I cannot begin to face. You have marveled me friend but I cannot do what you have done.”

Like many times before, I knew that I could not make him see it. I sighed, “Then I will take my leave and grieve for you this day. Think on what I have said. You are a man stuck. You will continually seek what your soul longs for but never find it in the shadows.”

He grabbed my rm as I stood. “But sir…sir! Before you depart. May I at least have the name of the one who has talked such mystery to me today?”

I stared at him for an age before I answered. “My name is Surrender and until you walk my path you will never really SEE.”

With that, I walked away to look for another man in the shadow. I would not have to look far as they could be found everywhere on this earth…

5 thoughts on ““Shadows”—- a short story about each of us somewhere along our journey

  1. I thought of this scripture when reading this.
    For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25, 26 NASB)

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