Give Me Shelter, Give Me Shade

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photo credit: A new hope [15/52] via photopin (license)
So, light.

It’s the answer, right? It’s the hero to vanquish darkness. It’s the ultimate rivalry, the Celtic vs. United of the cosmos, light vs. darkness. We seek light. Light’s the good guy. Arlo Guthrie says you can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.

Take that, dark.

Jedis have been both members of the dark side and rebel alliance (light side). Although you can’t always tell by the color of the light saber, it all plays out in black and white, this light vs. dark. Things looking bleak? Seek the light. Follow the light. BE the light.

Right? Light, light, light.

I push on my Dollar Tree sunglasses and pull down the bill of my ratted up Colorado Rockies cap at this deluge of light.

A night light to illuminate the path

It’s tough to find the toilet in a new house, in the middle of the night. (Or an old house, even.) Stacy, who writes Slowing the Racing Mind, wrote about buying a night light to illuminate the path. Symbolism wasn’t lost on Stacy.

“It really does not take much light to dispel the darkness around us,” she wrote.

She recognized light’s significance. And reminded us all of the power of seeking the light – and becoming the light for others. She’s right. Light, though, it takes energy. Just look at your power bill. Light takes electricity, and bulbs get hot and burn out and need replacing.

Light requires constant pedaling, perpetual motion.

I’ve found myself, face to the sun, in search of a renewal that transcends vitamin B, from the light and warmth of its rays.

I absorb it, eyes closed. Light requires constant pedaling, perpetual motion. When the hamster wheel slows, the light dims. Light demands effort, mobility. Its shine tells the world we’re winning the battle. We’re turning corners and blazing trails.

Sometimes, though, I want to stop. Not quit. Just, stop. I did, once.

That time I stopped for a moment

For a moment on a disc golf course, I lost a disc. I sat down. I lay back. I gazed skyward. The solitude normally found here eluded me. Just like that disc. In that moment, it felt like all I wanted to run from lurked in the trees.

I shut my eyes.

If I could just … stay here, I thought. Sleep. Never wake up. I kept my eyes closed, or partially so. Not unlike a meditative state. A calm washed over me when I shut out the light. My eyes opened when the warmth of tears reached my ears.

I retold this story on a therapist’s couch, closing my eyes and returning to that spot of immobility that helped give me a moment of tranquility.

I sat up, relaxed, relieved.

I turned left to see my lost disc, resting against a stump in the wavering sunlight that escaped between branches in motion. I retold this story on a therapist’s couch, closing my eyes and returning to that spot of immobility that helped give me a moment of tranquility.

I turned to my therapist of the time.

She was wrong

Her look of concern belied mine of serenity. Not wanting to wake, it seems, sounds an awful lot like a death wish. No. It’s relief. Relief from light. Light isn’t always the answer, even though light  illuminates all.

It illuminates not just our blessings, but also our curses.

It’s music, smell, sights, experiences, and questions that whirl in the mind, pushing that arm wrestle of dark vs. light this way, then that. It’s stepping foot on familiar ground, GPS routes on paths wrought with memories of a life you thought you had.

It’s soldiering on, fighting the good fight, remaining strong and still when the path you hoped you’d follow falls away beneath your feet.

It accompanies thoughts, at dawn, as you sort out that those weren’t nightmares. They were simply what happened yesterday.

It’s soldiering on, fighting the good fight, remaining strong and still when the path you hoped you’d follow falls away beneath your feet. It’s okay, more than okay, to pause from the trek onward and upward to seek a little respite from the light.

To seek, instead, the shade. It’s okay to be lost. To admit it, even. To feel there isn’t much use in so much light when you don’t even see a path take.

Shade (not that kind) on the soccer pitch

My little soccer kids used to recoil from the blazing sun.

Who am I kidding? My big soccer kids did, too. I brought popsicles on the steamiest days, and we stopped more often for water. There’s very little a coach can do against the pounding rays of the sun, though.Unless he orders a cloud to cover the sun.

“Here comes my cloud!” I’d say, and point to the sky. “I ordered it online, to cover the sun for you guys for a while. It cost $17! And it’s late!”

When you’re 6 and even when you’re 16, you don’t question the validity of coach’s story.

You revel in the relief of the cloud. Sometimes, coach needs the cloud, too.

Finding due North

When life throws you for a loop, it’s instinctive to grab the rudder. With both hands. It’s healthy to seek the light, to find your due north. Forge ahead. It’s also okay to not spend your every moment swinging the sword, though.

It’s hard work.

Put the sword down sometimes, and the shield. You turn your face to the sun, and close your eyes. Your former path, no longer in sight, remains in view and in mind. It’s writing your most favorite chapters,not the last, but those leading to a happy ending.

Then, your computer crashes. It’s lost. You can’t find those chapters, so you write again.

The rewrite comes slowly. Recreating words anew becomes laborious. Your path is unknown. So, you hope for a moment to stop. Duck from the light. Light brings life. Shade gives you the respite you need, though. So, shade.

Sometimes, it also can be the answer.

light quote


24 thoughts on “Give Me Shelter, Give Me Shade

  1. I am sitting on the balcony of our rental and am bathed in the light of a security light. The light spills out onto the beach, but I can see darkness to the edge of the horizon. I hear the gentle crashing of the surf, water rhythmically reaching shore, the quietly returning to sea. I can see the beginning of a new day in the southeast as the Earth slowly turns to welcome a new day’s light. Light is good. I’ll definitely need a patch of shade to avoid a bad sunburn today. Have a great day and a a wonderful week.

  2. Got to remember this and you are so right sometimes the answers are best found in the shade. Still yet, now I am humming Give Me Shelter and might have to listen to The Stones today while I work 🙂

    1. I’d rather just rest there and not worry about the answers, Tiff. Glad you could make sense of this – I don’t think it’s very clear. Happy Monday your way, too.

  3. I found myself nodding a lot while reading this. Keeping on keeping on can become wearying and sometimes we all need respite. I liken it to short bursts of Winter during a very long Summer-times we all need to go dormant or hibernate to restore energy, build our stores for the next growth spurt. Hoping you and yours had a good holiday weekend and again, thanks for the look into your world.

    1. Glad it spoke to you, Nikki. So much effort goes into “I’m doing just fine,” that you make yourself not so fine sometimes. I love the analogy with Winter. That soulful dormancy looks like death, but it’s really renewal.

      Hope you and yours also had a good holiday. Thanks so much for taking this look into my world!

  4. It’s hard to see the light if you don’t also have some knowledge of the darkness. As long as I have hope that the light will return, I don’t mind a little shade every now and again.

  5. I remember working in the fields (I worked as an agricultural consultant) and wishing and hoping for a few clouds. I remember walking through corn fields in 115 degree heat waves. The light can burn or it could be shining dimly at the end of a very long tunnel. I loved this one, Eli!

  6. The other morning I watched the sunrise. It was glorious, and I even managed to take a couple of photos of it. I just wish I could take photos of the stars at night. I love watching the stars at night. All of them light…you have to love the light.

  7. This post is so poignant and honest. Surrender seems to be the key. Just let the light happen if it’s going to happen but don’t force it. I agree, it’s exhausting to try to MAKE the effort all the time. The cloudy days are a welcomed respite for me, too. When I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I remember that even Jesus got into his boat to escape the crowds from time to time when it got to be too much before going back again. It’s ok to need a break! Plus, we’re all on the same team. Some of us are the light-bearers some days, while others need the shade, and then we take turns. That’s how it would be in my perfect version of the world. Hope you have a great day today, whether sunny or shady!

    1. Thanks, Lulu. It’s what I’ve been thinking and feeling for weeks. I’ve been forcing an “i’m fine after all this” look, and it’s an exhausting existence. Too much time trying to prove to everyone I’ll be just fine.

      I might be, someday. I’m not, now. Not entirely. I love the reminder of Jesus’ break for a respite.

      We do help each other out, don’t we? I know this community has sustained me and helped to save me.

      Here’s to partly cloudy skies for us both, my new friend.

      1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re in a hard place right now, but I’m glad that you are able to talk about it. Needing a bit of a break is never anything to be discouraged! One of my closest supports at work lost his grandfather a couple weeks ago after a pretty rapid decline, and he also gave the, “It’s all fine,” line repeatedly. He’s a pretty stoic guy, but we know each other very well, and before he left for the funeral I told him, “You know, it’s ok to not be ok.” It kind of stopped him in his tracks and took him an minute to process before he was like, “Yeah, you’re right.”

        Wishing you the perfect mix of sun and clouds today and every day. 😊

  8. So much I love about this one!!
    All moments are valid. All moments, when we are present in them, can be Enough. Not all that wander are lost, and not all mysteries must be solved. I have learned to not allow my happiness to rest on conditions – they are always changing. All I have is this moment. And oddly enough it is when I Be Still, that soon after, I also Know.

    1. This post felt like it wasn’t going to make any sense to anyone, primarily because it felt like it didn’t make sense to me, Rore.

      It’s recognizing that moments are valid, regardless of how badly we want them to happen or how desperately we try to alter them.

      I think more than admitting not all mysteries can be solved is to stop wishing for resolution to any mysteries at all.

      Eliminating attachment, finding happiness within … they’re admirable attainments, but to me, they feel as unlikely as me dunking a basketball.

      No amount of practice can get you from here to there, it seems.

      Stillness and Knowing live closely together. I’ve found the Stillness, it’s the Knowing that remains elusive.

      1. I think the knowing comes when you finally get the picture of life/yourself that’s inside your head, to be in harmony with the external way you live your life. So much of our conflict comes from wishing something – was something else. Wishing we could live up to that image we have of ourselves. That’s so much dissatisfaction and suffering. Especially if we fail. But as I think I’ve said before; be with your failures too. It’s okay. I think that’s why it’s so important to spend that still time, alone with yourself; so that you can get to Know Thyself.

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