Today, I drove through 1,000 shadows.
Maybe 100,000 shadows.
Maybe a million.
Leaving work on my commute home and heading due north, I was perpendicular to the western sun that had just begun to cast shadows across my side of the two-lane highway. I decided I would count the shadows through which I passed. I had a decision to make, though:
Do I count every shadow?
"Vapid thought," I soon concluded - too many shadows already and flying by too fast even at 55, especially too many dark clumps of countless shadows that covered hundreds and thousands of feet of concrete, yet broken up so frequently by golden slivers of sunlight that it was impossible to count them all. So I counted the big clumps of light-broken shadows as one.
I also counted the little lonely shadows, like the power-line shadows that fell straight across the road, and the partial shadows cast by the fast cars that said hello to my windshield. brushed against my fender, and then waved goodbye in my rear-view mirror. Every time I passed through a shadow, I would count.
Of course the shadows were deeper and thicker in the valleys, and shallower and thinner on the hilltops.
But after only a few miles I was weary with counting shadows. I stopped counting after passing through a thousand.
I re-learned a few things today on my home-bound journey passing through those shadows.
For instance, shadows won't muss your hair, not even a single hair.
Shadows won't wrinkle your pants like a puppy or ripple your shirt like the wind.
And you don't feel shadows.
I mean, your eyes feel their effect and that's pleasant on a ninety-five degree autumn afternoon in East Texas, but shadows are not the things they represent. The substance of shadows doesn't touch you. No leaf touched me, no massive tree trunk, not even two tons of speeding steel whizzing by. I didn't feel a thing. It was only shadows, and I just drove right through them, every single one.
I also re-learned that on the other side of every shadow is a shaft of golden light that paints the waiting world anew in vivid colors bright.
Light begins where shadows end.
Heck, shadows couldn't even exist without light; in fact, shadows are the proof of light, as is darkness.
Plato knew that.
Again, I thought to myself: "I wonder if that other guy was thinking about this, thinking about the harmlessness of shadows, the painlessness of shadows, the swiftness of shadows, and the certainty of golden light beyond the shadows' edge when he wrote these words,"
"I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, . . . "
I thanked God.