The Shape of Shadow // Thoughts on Imperishable Glory

The Bible tells me that my life --this world, our experience here on Earth, living here for the short moment in history that we do-- is a passing shadow. Trying to hold onto my life is like trying to catch hold of a breath, a thin and vaporous mist that appears briefly and then vanishes through the fingers.

I know this is true because I've tried to hold it and it wouldn't stay. The only option was to cast the complete fullness of myself into the passing days, but I'm always swept along no matter what I do.

It makes me feel crazy and a little depressed, but then there's this:  If our days are a passing shadow, then whats the real thing casting it's shape over time? I am a fleeting vapor, but I lift my eyes to the hills. I long to be solid and imperishable. Why?

It contradicts.

The wild flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, do they know something of the seasons and the turning of the earth beneath them? Do the silent shadows on a forest floor, or the beams of light flickering through branches, think anything of the faraway sun and the trees that form their being? Does the clear call of a trumpet sent out into the world grieve it's death when it can carry on no longer?

If that's all I am, fleeting and vaporous and passing, than where's the innocence, the ignorance, of a pure and uncomplicated existence?

I can't argue living in a shadow, but I'm obsessed with the shape of its silhouette-- what it all means. We humans are starving for more than we are getting, for what Thoreau called the "marrow of life."

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Put to death the foolish, wasteful things so that one might feast on the imperishable.

It speaks to us because we have souls inside these vaporous bodies.


When I recently shifted attention from my tired body to my hungry soul, when God woke me up again, I was feasting on Romans with breakfast.

I was breaking down the breakdown in chapter 1, forming a bit of a case study on this crowd of people who recognized the existence of God (they were aware of him and understood him to be real) but did not honor him or give thanks to him.

The result was that their thinking became futile and their hearts became dark and dull. In the Greek, their thinking became mataioo-- worthless, with no result or effect, just useless turning gears in their heads. Their hearts were asynetos-- senseless, dark, dull, without understanding.

Claiming to be wise, they actually become tasteless fools as they filled their bellies with satisfying but worthless things. They lost their true taste and vision when they traded the imperishable glory of God for things that were perishable and faded.


Michael interrupted me.  He handed me a plastic jewel that he had found, and I held it up to the window to show him how much more beautiful it was that way.

Wasn't it interesting, I asked him, how the very same thing could be dull one moment and sparkling turquoise the next? It was all about the light shining through.

I imagined that case-study crowd in Romans walking around with turquoise jewels inside their ancient chests. Perfect, multi-faceted gems reflecting light and color, casting brilliance in sparkling circles all around them like diamonds in the sun. And yet slowly, one foolish exchange after another, they begin to suppress truth and hide from light. They wrap their arms around duller things and call it good. The darkness continues to cloud them, and finally the gems supernaturally devolve back into rock.

The light shines upon them but now they are asynetos, dull, and mataioo, without any result or effect.


God forbid, I cringe.

Do not let me become dull or else I'll never catch the light in this shadow, never reflect it, never see life and people around me illuminated by it.

Do not let my brain turn and turn and turn, spinning out useless, futile thoughts with no wisdom or good effect.

Do not let me dine on foolish, perishable things and lose my taste for the marrow.


O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold you have made my days as a breath,
and my lifetime is nothing before you.

Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.

Only you.


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