I’ve been thinking a lot about shadows lately. Last weekend when I was painting hands and faces, it occurred to me that most of my energy was spent trying to get the shadows right. Without the shadows on a painting or photograph, the hands and face have no shape.
It struck me that that’s a powerful metaphor for life. Sometimes we get lost in the shadows. It feels like the light has passed us by and may never shine on us again. Eventually, though, (and sometimes very slowly) we emerge from the shadows into the light, and the warmth and brightness is so much richer because of the time spent in the shade.
If there were only light in our lives, it would seem flat and uninteresting. But throw in some shadows and various intensities and shades of light, and suddenly you have shape and beauty. Though it was hard to believe at the time, I am a richer person for having been through the shadows of death, rape, more death, the near loss of my beloved, and many lesser shadows.