I WAS thinking of being in the shade, living in the shade, and that in the shade, one cannot cast a shadow. To have any shadow at all, there must be great light. Those who throw shadows, how careful they should be upon whom the shadows fall. We all want to stand in a great light: but we often forget the shadows. Those of us who are in the shade need not fear where our shadows fall: we have none, we are in the shadow. The shadow thrower is between us and the light. We can live in the shade so easily, but we would rather get out into the light: then we in our turn would become throwers of shadow. This sounds like glass houses and stone throwing, may be in some ways the same thought at the root.
There are so many ways of throwing shadows. We cannot always choose our light, that shines on us; but we can generally choose where we will stand, so that the light does shine upon us.
Do we always think where the shadow will fall, on some wayside flower that needs shade, and cannot stand the full blaze of sunshine, or do we take the light out of some brother's eyes who would so gladly bask in the sunshine? Shadows sometimes are cheerful changing things, plays of light and shade over those upon whom they are cast; but it is a terrible thing to absorb so much light that one throws a great vast shadow, keeping the light from all around.
How then are we to get this light and so regulate our shadow-thro wing powers, that we give only sufficient to those around? I suppose we must learn to be transparent, clear as crystal, then the light will shine through us, softened perhaps but not darkened. Then as we throw a shadow, we veil the light and let it come gently through us to the feebler nature that sought the shade.
The strong light of the world needs often to be kept from some natures, they cannot stand its fierceness, it forces them forward, like hot-house plants, and without shelter and shade they burn and consume themselves in its heat. The strong light of sorrow; I do not think sorrow is always shade, it is a light in itself sometimes, and those who stand in its great radiance throw a great shade on those around, a darkness even, against which they must guard, lest they in their sorrow darken other lives. The light of sorrow can be illuminating to ourselves, so we must keep the shadow from falling on some poor wandering unhappy one by our side. I think as comfort:—as a great shadow, the grateful shade of a great rock in a weary land. We in the heat, light, and blaze of the battle of life draw to those sorrowful ones, to those who in the tender light of understanding can throw a shadow over our hearts, who can comfort by the shadow of a word. They have stood between us and the fierce light of day and so we can now rest. There is a wonderful shadow thrown over all the world and wherever we go it is there,—the shadow of the cross. The cross seems to be its own light, its own shadow. All the world is a cross, wherever we look it stands: message of a great light. We see it in the clear crystal of the snow, we see it wherever line meets line, we see it where human hands have laboured; where straight path meets straight road, there lies the mark of the cross. It upholds the world: take away the sign of the cross and the world would fall to pieces leaving but a barren mass of lifeless matter.
Shadow of the Cross! We can all creep under its shade because we are so sure that there we are safe. It is the most grateful shade. The light that throws this shadow may be fierce, may be strong, may be wellnigh unbearable, but it shines through the cross, and we are safe. There again is the way for us, to see how our shadows fall, as we stand by our own light or shine from another's lighting; we must be sure that it shines at all times through the cross. Then the shadow will surely become the secure refuge of many a fainting soul. Because our shadow has become, through our thought and carefulness, the Shadow of a Cross.