Scripture ~ “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1
Spiritual Focus ~ “Like a shadow, I am, and I am not.” Rumi, 13th century Sufi mystic and poet
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale, I, Exhale, am
Story ~ One of the beautiful things about having a senior living facility connected to a preschool is the fun seniors have watching the children play. One little girl was seen spinning and twirling around the courtyard, pausing to drop one of her goldfish crackers on the ground. As the kids passed by, one of the seniors thanked the little girl for feeding the birds. The girl responded, “I wasn’t feeding the birds. I was feeding Jesus.” The teacher escorting the class laughingly told the senior that the little girl believes Jesus is her friend and is always with her. So, when the girl sees her shadow, she thinks it is Jesus and shares her snack.
Many of us are fascinated by shadows; so much so that we tune in to a national observance on February 2nd to see if Punxsutawney Phil, the infamous Pennsylvanian groundhog, sees his shadow. Interestingly Groundhog Day originated as an early Christian practice during yuletide when priests would hand out candles to the community. Neighbors would gather to see if the groundhog saw its shadow. If it did and returned to its hole, this was a sign to share food and supplies to help each other get through a long winter.
In scripture God’s shadow is often seen as protective, sheltering, a sign of God’s presence, and a continued commitment to a loving relationship. In psychology, shadow personality traits are described as the part of our ego or personality that challenges us when we are considering something inconsistent with our values. Yoga philosophy acknowledges that sometimes meditation and certain poses can release a sadness or shadow thoughts. Mental health experts are finding a great deal of evidence that trauma lives in the body, sometimes for generations, and can be healed through mindful practices. One thing trauma-informed yoga therapists recommend as part of the healing process is to pause and reflect on what makes us feel safe, and then use that as a resource to ground ourselves in the present moment. That safety resource can come from a community, church, nature or taking refuge in a spiritual figure. Our scripture today offers the promise that whether we are dancing and twirling or seeking healing from trauma, we can abide in the shadow of the almighty I AM.