The light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.
I grew up on a street named Yosemite Drive. In our neighborhood all the streets were named for national parks: Yellowstone, Rushmore, Everglade, Shenandoah. In the winter months, when it was too cold for our bicycles, my gang of friends would walk these streets. I remember during Christmas break we would move from one friend’s home to another begging Christmas cookies from our moms, and checking out cool, new Christmas gifts.
Of course, we were boys. We could not simply walk from house to house without some diversion, some game, some kind of alternative to boring, ordinary walking. So we played tag as we ran down the street. But this was not your ordinary game of tag which had safe bases at trees or on a lawn chair. Our game never really had a name; but as I remember it now I think Shadow Stomp would be a perfect name. Our game was a more advanced and brutal version of tag. The object was not to tag a person or anything as real and tangible as their body. The object was to tag their shadow; actually we would stomp on shadows. Our game never had a score, or rules. We never had an official start or finish. But we played all the time instead of walking. It was an activity that simply erupted in our young glee.
Shadows after dark were, of course, created by our streetlights. These were the old fashioned streetlights, attached at the top of electric poles, shining directly down. Our gang would sprint down the streets of our neighborhood trying with all the energy and speed we could muster to stomp on a friend’s shadow. We stomped, and sought to destroy our best friend’s shadow. No bodies were supposed to be touched. No one was ever hurt except the occasional fool who slipped on an untied shoelace and crashed to the asphalt. We were after shadows, and we learned to duck, and twist, and jump to make our shadows evade every attack.
The streetlights provided the light and our bodies made the shadows. But as we traveled down the street the light from the streetlight behind us would fade away, and our shadow would die into all the other darkness. Then a new streetlight from up ahead would catch us in its light now casting a shadow the opposite way. So we would race from streetlight to streetlight, casting shadows, trying to protect our own while we sought and stomped on others. Making this game even more fun is a simple fact of light and shadows. We all knew by intuition and learning that if a person stood directly, exactly, perfectly underneath a streetlight there would be no shadow. Now the game would get funny and brutal. A person was victorious, could not be defeated, could not be stomped on if they stood directly, exactly, perfectly underneath the streetlight. It was possible to be fully in the light without creating any shadow. As our game escalated, we would soon be a group of pushing, tackling, shoving boys, each trying to push the other out of that special spot. We each wanted to stand in that perfect spot beneath the streetlight where the light was complete and no shadows existed.
So it is in this season of Advent, that we ponder again Jesus Christ as a gift of light to our world. And I pray this Advent we may find ourselves standing so completely in the light of Christ that our lives will not cast any shadow. Amen!