Breathing in the Shadows

The moon is blue.  Super blue.

Yes, there are scientific reasons for the terminology.  You may seek them out for yourself.  For tonight, I am just happy to sit on a stump and watch the shadows.

I watched the moon for a while, beautiful thing that it is, but as it approached its zenith, my neck objected, so I bent down to relieve the tension.  That’s when I noticed the shadows.

The world is awash in shadows.  At midnight.

The old mulberry tree, its spindly limbs bereft of leaves, stretches bony fingers this way and that across the cold sleeping grass.  There’s a ghost story waiting to be told there, were the world not so brilliant in the moon’s glare.

I glance at the two Labrador retrievers cavorting nearby, and can’t help noticing their shadows mirroring their every leap and crouch.

Shadows in the moonlight. Creator’s handwork.

Basking in the beauty of the late night, I smile.  For a moment. 

Then I feel it.

I knew I would.  There is a high-pitched whistle as I breathe in.  And out.  I struggle a bit to hold down the cough that is inevitable.

Time to go in.  I bid goodnight to the dogs, with a warning for them to behave themselves until morning, and I head indoors.  Indoors, where it’s warm.

I bring my shadows with me.  Shadows of resentment.  Shadows of doubt.

Shadows of negativity.

Wait.  That’s a bit redundant, isn’t it?  A shadow is already a negative, of sorts.  If the object is the real thing—the positive, the shadow must be its negative.  The un-thing, one might say.  

So, here I sit, my un-thing weighing on my chest, and I watch the two dogs still cavorting outside—two black shadows dancing with their black shadows.

Not a care in the world.

I watch them and I am envious.  Nighttime is the worst when bronchitis hits.  The asthmatic aspect makes it difficult to breathe; the cough that follows makes it nearly impossible to sleep.

In the darkened house I lie watching the shadows.  Shadows on my soul because of the shadow creeping into my lungs.

Do you feel sorry for me yet?  You shouldn’t.  I have come to realize that some shadows are darker than others.  

Just tonight I read the words of a new friend, one I’ll probably never meet in the flesh, who is in his sixth year of suffering with cancer.  His lungs and other organs are full of tumors, some even visible through his skin.  Four surgeries, multiple courses of chemo, and still the shadows persist.

He sits in his chair, receiving the infusion of chemicals which will bring waves of nausea and pain, along with rashes, and he prays for those sitting in chairs around him.

He prays.  For them.

I breathe as deeply as I dare, trying to keep from coughing and waking the Lovely Lady, but my mind is already on another friend who has a constant shadow, as well.  Her lungs are working at a fraction of their capacity, the only cure, a transplant.  

She’s not a candidate for a transplant.  And yet, her cheerful encouragement comes as an almost daily occurrence—to friends, to strangers—she points out the bright spots rather than the shadows.

If we walk in light (as He is in light), we walk in community with each other, and in fellowship of His saving grace. (1 John 1:7)

We walk this road with heroes.  Heroes of faith who show us the light rather than point out the shadows.

When we are in light, there will invariably be a shadow.  But, you knew that already, didn’t you?

When we walk in light, there is always a shadow. Always. Click To Tweet

The shadow is strongest in the brightest light.  Sunlight—moonlight—streetlight—you name it.

We can focus on the un-thing, the shadow, that comes from walking in His light, or we can keep our eyes on the things that are.  

Life.  Love.  Heaven.  

Things that are.

The Apostle (my namesake) was adamant when he spoke of it.  The temporary things we are suffering here are nothing (un-things) compared to the glory we shall one day know. (Romans 8:18)

Some, like my bronchitis, are more temporary than any of them, likely to disappear within days.  Others may last a lifetime.  Or, they may claim that life even.  It’s still true.

The shadow is not the real thing.  It never will be the real thing.

The shadow is not the real thing. Click To Tweet

Breathe easy.  The day will come when the shadows will flee forever, the light in our eternal home, our God, Himself.

No more tears.

No more shadows.

Only Light.

Breathe deep.


Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you.
All I need is the air that I breathe.
(from The Air That I Breathe ~ Albert Hammond)


Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4 ~ NIV ~ Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.


I’ve been ill again.  I don’t say that to evoke your sympathy.  It’s not a life-threatening illness.  At least, I don’t think it is.  Asthmatic bronchitis is not uncommon and there are any number of effective treatments for it.

Feeling better today, I told the Lovely Lady I think I’ll live.  Immediately, I remembered what the ultimate end of all mankind will be, and I added the phrase at least, until I die.

She was not amused.  Of course, she needs me well, so she can get back to her regular work schedule of only sixty hours a week.  I have left her in the lurch.  She’s not amused–I’m not happy.

I’m going to admit something I may regret later.  While I understand that my illness is quite treatable and am even now waiting for medication to effect its curative function, I confess that I get a little discouraged (and maybe a little angry) while I’m waiting. 

In the dark and by myself, I feel helpless.  You see, I’ve prayed that I’ll be free from this particular thorn in the flesh on numerous occasions over the years, but still it knocks me down periodically. 

I wonder why God doesn’t hear me.

Where are you God?

I would have shouted the words, had I the breath to do so today, but satisfied myself with whimpering them plaintively toward the ceiling in the den.

There was no answer.

He’s not here, is He? 

I asked myself the question and then shuddered at the implications.

Pushing up from my recliner, I went up the steps to the dining room.  The result was the same there.  Nothing.  Living Room–Kitchen?  Still nothing.

It’s a beautiful home, even if it is small.  Surely, God would want to live in such an attractive abode.  But, I’m pretty sure I never heard Him answer from the walls of any of those rooms.

I went back to my chair and flopped down, gasping a little. 

Disappointed, I sat for a moment.  Only a moment.  It seemed to be just a little brighter in the room as I considered the glimmer of truth which was gradually coming to my consciousness. 

Not too many years ago I went to an event, described as a house blessing, for some close friends.  Their denomination allows for such things, reading scripture, then blessing each room in turn, before calling for God’s presence in the home.  I expected to feel different when I left.  I didn’t.

I remember thinking that’s not how it works

I also remember some friends on the other end of the spectrum of faith who had someone come in and do a service to cast out the evil spirits from their home.  The assumption was, again, that God would come and fill that space, recently vacated by the bad things.

I wasn’t there.  I’m not going to get into an argument about exorcism, nor even about blessing houses.

I just know what is truth.  Straight from Him.


God doesn’t live in buildings.  Why would he want to inhabit dead, inanimate things made of brick, and wood, and steel?

Ah.  Now you know what that glimmer bursting into flame earlier was, don’t you?

God lives in His people.  Weak–strong.  Old–young.  Women–men.

Inside this weak, sick man, gasping for breath on a warm, summer day, the Creator has taken up His abode. 

Inside the old man down the street from me, overtaken by blindness, God sees clearly exactly what he needs. 

In the soul of my friend, awaiting word from her oncologist giving her the bad/good news about the result of her latest PET scan, He is not surprised nor panicked.  He sees all paths and knows all ends. 

And, He lives inside of us.

Do you think He doesn’t feel the despair? 

Do you assume He doesn’t understand my anger?

Do you suppose He doesn’t hear the frightened petitions? 

By bigbirdz (Flickr: Prayer: Mother and Daughter) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsWould you imagine He is unmoved by our cries?

He lives in us!

So.  I’m done yelling at the ceiling.

Now, I begin to understand that song we used to sing when we were children.  Maybe it’s time to whisper our prayers to Him again.

Just a whisper.

Inside voice will work just fine.




Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.
(from Mere Christianity ~ C.S. Lewis ~ Irish born teacher/author ~ 1898-1963)



Whisper a prayer in the morning.
Whisper a prayer at noon.
Whisper a prayer in the evening,
To keep your heart in tune.



Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands…
(Acts 7:48a ~ ESV)





© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.