Light, Shadows, Snow… and faith

When I say that we all need to learn how to read from the book of creation, sometimes people wrinkle their noses and wonder what I’m talking about.  This morning’s journal entry might offer a helpful example, written after a morning walk with the neighbors up at the writing cabin.

Good morning God…

My heart is full this morning, grateful for the walking friends up here and the refreshing conversations when we do our mile together.  This morning though, most of my gratitude stems from those few profound moments of light that unfolded while I was eating my bacon and eggs.  With the sun rising behind the cabin, the house creates a big shadow out the westward looking window in the dining area.  I could see the shadow on the ground but of course not in the air.

Then something astonishing happened. Random snowflakes began appearing in mid-air, as if from out of nowhere.  They flash their unique beauty for less than a second, descending slowly, and then disappear, like a magic trick, or some cosmic sleight of hand.  I’d never seen such nonsense – couldn’t stop looking: POOF!  They’re here.  POOF! They’re gone.  Over and over again until it dawned on me these flakes are simply coming out of the veil of shadow for a moment to show themselves and then, as if shy, retreat to their dressing room, where the sun doesn’t shine.

This is not only magical; it’s profoundly encouraging.  I’m reminded that there are always beautiful things happening that are hidden.  That person who’s so difficult, and angry, and addicted – who knows what glory is transpiring in the shadowed recesses of the soul, later to be brought into the light?  The same is true of that neighbor for whom I pray, and that person whose self-righteous religiosity frustrates me so deeply.  It’s true too, for my own heart where, deeper than my own consciousness even, you are at work: healing, chastening, encouraging, loving.

We live on the surface of it all Lord, and there is o so much that we don’t see! Grant us the peace and joy that comes from knowing that there’s invisible redemption, loving, blessing, healing, and inviting going on all around me and even within me.  Then, when it comes into the light, give me the grace to see it and give thanks, knowing the beauty was there all along – just not ready to be seen until the time was ripe, and right, and light.

This, I believe, will birth patience, and love, and joy in the ways I relate to others.  What more could I ask on this day when your creation is dancing between shadows and light?  Nothing really – it’s enough to know you’re at work, even when I can’t see you.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • dpw

    Thank you for the lovely reminder of the hidden treasures of His work, and the beauty of the world he gave us! It’s all too easy to forget some days how good we really have it.

  • Judy Becerril

    Thank you Richard,
    Just the perspective I needed for today.
    Bless you.

  • Scott

    Beautiful insight! This is also why Holy Saturday is perhaps my favorite day of the church year. The silence, the absence of God does not mean the abandonment — or even the inactivity — of God. Quite the contrary!

  • Shannon

    Hi Richard,
    I loved going to Bethany while I was UW graduate student. It is just such a fantastic community of believers. Your blogs have since been a source of wonderful guidance and reflection. I recently moved back to the PNW from Texas for a job though and was wondering if you had any good suggestions for churches in Portland, OR? Thank you!

  • Ryan Hofer

    “Shadows are harshest when there is only one lamp.” -James Richardson

    “People need shadows to rest in. I would advise you to send a bucket of shadow to a friend.” -Yoko Ono

  • Adam Kruse


    It was nice to chat with you this morning. Here is the link to the NPR article on our love for “gear” I was telling you about. Be blessed.