Shadowlands. We all have them – the paths we’ve walked that we wished we hadn’t, decisions we have made that are now tinged with regret, maybe even parts of ourselves that we wish just weren’t. Sadness, pity, hopelessness, despair, neglect, doom, pain, anguish, wretchedness. Shadowlands.
It is easy to think that the point of life is to pretend the Shadowlands don’t exist. To live as far away as possible. To be bright, and sparkly, with full tummies and warm beds, and a holiday twice a year. Familes that are well behaved, friends that think we are fabulous. That’s the dream, isn’t it? A life far from the Shadowlands.
I live close to the Shadowlands. I suspect many creative people do. I look at the people in the happy places, with their happy jewellery glinting in the sun and sometimes, it just hurts my eyes. Too loud. Too much. Too hard to tell if it’s real or just a game.
When I look to the Shadowlands, my eyes may ache from peering into places that are difficult to see, but ultimately, it’s not my eyes that hurt. It’s my heart. I see people struggling, and alone, and dealing with very difficult problems. Addiction. Depression. Fear. Financial pressure. Relational pressure. Hopelessness. I see little things made big, and big people made little. So I go there as I often as I can.
I would hope that I should stop and visit every time I see the Shadowlands in somebody. Give them the gift of my time, my shoulder to cry on, the knowledge that somehow, they are not alone. Because I know the difference it makes. But of course, I don’t do it often enough. I walk past people everyday who carry the shadows silently, hidden. I cannot see, because we don’t talk about the Shadowlands.
Because there are other things to be found in the Shadowlands. How can you know the joy of forgiveness, if you have never felt the pain of regret? For ever wound, there may be healing. For every despair, there is a hope. For every pain, there is a joy. If we can find it, if we can share it. If we dare to love, and care enough to make a difference.
The people in the Shadowlands are us – unmasked, unprotected, ashamed. We are no better, no more worthy. We just look like we have our act together. Those is the Shadowlands don’t need our judgement. Sometimes, they don’t even need our help. But they (we) always, always, need our love.
Love in the Shadowlands. It’s a beautiful thing.