Keep your face to the sun

These little cygnets are enjoying the warmth of the sun which mirrors the warmth of the love of their Heavenly Father.

Another Tweet from my friend, Joyce Smith.

When I was studying Theology at University, my Old Testament Professor gave an illustrated lecture on excavations at Ai a Canaanite town destroyed by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership. (Book of Joshua Chapters7 & 8).
It’s funny what makes you remember things but the final slide (it was a long time ago!) was of the entire site after the excavations had finished and most of it was in dark shadow. Innocent students that we were and not wishing to embarass him, we asked the Professor what this ‘shadow’ meant. He sighed deeply, ‘that’s my wife’ she got in the way of the camera!’

Photographers know that an otherwise excellent photograph can be ruined by someone who gets in the way of the camera. The ‘subject’ is plunged into shadow. It’s like an eclipse of the sun.

So Helen Keller in her quotation offers good advice. The two cygnets are lit by the sun with only a tinge of shadow behind them. Their faces are, as Joyce says, are enjoying the full warmth of the sun. She draws the parallel that this is a mirror of the warmth of our Heavenly Father poured out on all of us.

This is therefore not about photography, beautiful though the image is.

At one level it is a word of encouragement. Look towards the Son, towardsGod, and shadow and darkness in your life disappears.
This will often take a bit of work on our part at times.
During the various lockdowns or hesitancy of decision-making, some have to work very hard to deal with murkiness of depression, hopeless and anxiety. Hope is sometimes difficult to grasp. We can so easily slide into a sense of helplessness.

In such circumstances, pondering on Helen Keller’s words and looking at the cygnets reflecting light can be an encouragement.
Whenever we are ‘down’ and floundering this image and verse ask us to think of Light and how it is presented in the Gospel. Contrasting dark and light in John’s Gospel, for example, is a big theme which shines light in the overcoming of darkness by and in Jesus who is presented as pure Light.

It may be, however, that we are so overshadowed by darkness in our lives that religion isn’t hitting the spot right now.
So why not try this:

Move away from the negatives in your life and think of the ‘good’ times.
look around your home at the familiar, much loved, things and think of what is behind them – given by whom, bought for some reason, reminders of people who were good to you.?
Play your favourite music, uplifting and sometimes saddening. It was a persecuted priest, Gonville ffrench-Beytagh who said that whenever depression overtook him, he played music which took him deeper into his darkness because only so could he rise up out of it. You are not often helped by well-meaning friends telling you to snap out of it or get over it! (or even worse, as someone once told me, don’t be so self absorbed)

Another use of music at such times is to sing! I like to do this (for the sake of others, in the shower). I may not know all the words but I can hum the tune. It has an amazing effect of lifting the soul.
The beauty of Nature never fails, especially at this time of year, though every season has its artistic template.
A walk in the countryside or around a garden can bring new Light to your life. (Wander round, sipping a cup of tea or coffee)
Even if it isn’t possible to do that, your mind has been taking photos of favourite places and events which are joyful all your life. Click the button of your imagination and sit quietly enjoying the view!

There are so many simple ways to push the shadows behind you and let the sun in.
Those who can turn to Jesus and become focussed on him will learn something really important: He will deal with the shadows so that you can get on with bathing in the Light.

[Mr. G. With thanks to Joyce, as ever, for the Inspiration]

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