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The Shadows in our Lives

The Shadows in our Lives


"Look there, Mommy!" It is mid-afternoon and Sara Leah and I are strolling along the sidewalk.

"Yes, honey, I see it. It's a shadow."

"It keeps moving." She's pointing and gesticulating. "And, there's you, Mommy." She's pointing again. "But what is a shadow?"

"It's like a reflection of you," I am stalling to formulate a response that a three-year-old would understand. "See it almost shows a picture of you and what you're doing. Now it shows us walking."

There always has to be some light in order to make a shadow.

"When does a shadow come?"

"See the sun is shining. But we're blocking its light from going on the sidewalk, so it's making our shadow at our side."

She nods. "So shadows happen during the day?"

"Well, not only. Tonight, when we're cuddling in your bed, I'll show you our shadows on the wall of your room." She's smiling in anticipation. "The night light in your room makes the shadows appear on the walls. There always has to be some light that's being blocked in order to make a shadow."

There are shadows on walls or sidewalks—those dim figures caused by intercepting the light. We can play with our shadows and have fun with their varying images.

But then there are also the "shadows" in our lives—those periods of intense gloom and unhappiness. Those are the moments when we feel fear, doubt or a threat to the joy of our lives. When a dark, foreboding feeling or shady thought is blocking the sunny rays of illumination in our lives.

But if we take a different perspective, maybe we can realize that there are no shadows in the absolute blackness of night.

To cast a shadow there always has to be some light shining through—and some "light" in our lives.

Perhaps these sinister shadows in our own lives, too, can be diminished if rather than on focusing on their intangible, menacing silhouette, we focus on noticing the surrounding light.

Have you ever overcome the effects of a "shadow" in your life—by focusing on the surrounding light?

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Patricia via February 27, 2008

Overcoming different shadows Dear Chana,
Come to think about it your article has hit the nail right on the head. Perhaps not in one dimension but in referring to a shadow in another window of perception.
It is the shadow that stays with me and reminds me not to extend myself too far out with other people and different beliefs (different shadows). A shadow that reminds me that I am who I am and to always remember to protect and keep near what is very special. Reply

S.G. California February 26, 2008

light behind shadows Chana,
That was beautifully written, and the message was so significant. I read it at the right time in my life. Thank you. Reply

Melissa Greenville, SC February 25, 2008

Insubstantial Shadows Chana, that was just lovely. What a great blog entry to get all of us focused back on the Light so we can quit fixating on the shadows, which are in fact insubstantial. You are writing such nice stuff! Reply

Patricia via February 24, 2008

Raphael Chana,
Honestly, The Light within loves the shadow that stands behind me. I could never overcome it in physical form. : ) Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY February 22, 2008

shadows It's very easy for me to feel useless, frustrated and fat in these late winter months when the cold seems to drag on interminably and its much harder to get out and exercise and garden like I like to in the more temperate parts of the year. But it does give me a chance to take a long look at my life without the little mood -lifters that make it tolerable- and maybe finally force the change of fundamentally frustrating conditions for the better. Studying the Torah is helping me be a better person and create better surroundings and more positive relationships for myself. Reply

DTW February 19, 2008

Shadows My husband and I are Baal Tshuvas (returnees to Judaism) and therefore had no family support when we raised our children. Our families were hostile to our way of life for many years. It was at the same time not an easy task to fit into frum/observant society and help our children succeed in yeshiva with our limited knowledge.
The surrounding light has been seeing our children grow up and succeed as religious Jews (thank G-d). There is also an old photo, in our album of a very religious looking man and the photo is simply labeled, Zaidy. He was my great-great-grandfather. Hopefully he is looking down at us and is happy with us since many of his descendants did not succeed as religious Jews. Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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