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Shadow dancing (09/09/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

I saw the light! A shadow of someone reaching toward a radiant warmth engulfed me, and all the discomforts of pneumonia faded into a serene peace. The shadow I saw in a feverish stupor was myself. I was ten years old at the time. I've never forgotten how wonderful that manifestation felt. To this day, my favorite Bible passage is the 23rd Psalm, ""¦though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me"¦"¯

Shadows and me: I didn't see it directly. As I stood at the kitchen sink washing supper dishes, the gray shape of a large bird swept across the window glass on the outskirts of vision. It was the falcon; I just sensed it. As I looked up at our neighbor's antenna, there it sat, regally and possessively as if he had always perched there. Actually he's one of the new guys in the neighborhood this summer, his shrill, distinct call and wide-winged flight pattern etched against the clouds have turned a few heads.

Silhouette on the wall: During a heavy snowfall in March, when the electricity goes off during the night, I have flashbacks of me walking our firstborn Kelly in the dark, just one week after we came home from the hospital. I had turned on the gas stove to warm her bottle. The shadow against the wall melded our separateness as one. It was a bonding moment I'll never forget. Shadow dancing: When very young, our first grandchild, Kelly's oldest, Alyssa, spent the night with us on occasion. We went through our bedtime ritual of reading books, saying her prayers, and casting shadows on the wall with our hands, mimicking two ducks quacking it up, fat lips having a strange conversation, and bats swooping over her pillow. The sleep came much later.

Penumbras: When I discovered the word "penumbra"¯, back in my poetry era, I used it while writing of the hazy silhouette of a barn's outer east side fading through the sun's first rays as they slithered beyond the country horizon. The dictionary describes "penumbra"¯ as "a vague, indefinite, or borderline area."¯ Who knew?

Spotlights: Another uncommon phrase, "son et lumiere"¯ is defined as a technique of presenting a historical spectacle, especially at night, before a monument, etc., using special lighting effects with music, narration, and the like."¯ I immediately thought of Sugar Loaf when I read the definition. "Strike up the band!"¯

Phenomenon: Have you looked up at the clouds, once or twice, in sheer amazement, as if gazing upon a phenomenon of such magnitude that the name of God rushes through your lips? Averting my eyes from the rural road I was driving on, it took my breath away. A gigantic, billowing, pearl-white mass appeared to be whorled from a deepening gray vortex. Mounds within mounds of weightless white exuberance, lambent, held my sight from venturing to the borders of what must be eternity. Mysterious promises: Today's possibilities are as vast as space. You walk with early morning shadows scudding through wet grasses, and rows of wheat and corn, mysterious promises crossing your path. In the sowing and reaping of another dawn there's no despair or fear in your heart"¦you gave it all to Him. God is endless space, the hours of the day, twilight, and night's enormity, sunrise, sunset, and seas of golden wheat. Heavenly signs: I forgot to set my alarm for 12:30 AM on August 27th ! Mars was the brightest in the night sky the entire month of August, coming within 34.65 million miles of earth. No one alive today will be here to see it again in 2287. Two moons! The sky was to have appeared as if it had two moons - and I missed it! "Don't let the sun catch you crying,"¯ the old song goes. Live by your hopes - not your regrets.

Walk with Him and today is all you need.

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at




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