The “Shadow” Knows”

shadow_generatedIt’s behind me all day no matter what direction I walk.  Sometimes it’s lean, unlike my growing girth and other times it’s wide as ever finally showing my present colors.  Van Morrison sang about a “Moon Shadow,” a wonderful song but somehow still difficult to see.  Ted Lewis combined my shadow with me as his big band theme song.  Maybe he saw his more than I see mine.  It even spawned an old time radio show whose title suggests more than the creators thought.

In psychology it is the unknown, neither good nor bad just a lot of stuff that is unknown to you but the more willing you are (or unwilling) it will stop shadowing you and become a part of you because it already is an active and living part of you.  The Catholic Church would call it your guardian angel without all the complete stuff that makes up a shadow.  Guardian angel only knows good and reminding you that that chocolate only enlarges that shadow behind you.  The angel’s touch was good in grade school but the shadow becomes more apparent and meaningful as age creeps its way forward.

The shadow can be that unknown task that you said you would tend to shortly but it’s been twenty years.  That shadow can be that spark that you’ve been extinguishing for years because of its unknown and sticking with the comfortable present even if uncomfortable.  It’s not a technical word but I like the word “stuff” because it is things that are unnamed, un-judged or categorized.  We cannot give meaning to any of it because we do not know what any of it is until it reveals itself in any number of ways.

A back ache can revisit a personal relationship ache, a sleepless night can trigger some alone time for personal growth, a sluggish year at work says just what I just said.  Shadows live because we live.  Shadows reflect what only is given to them in and through time: ourselves.

Try following or catching your shadow as a young person.  It doesn’t work.  The shadow can only follow you and follow you in influences, dreams, regrets and undone work that your guardian angel would envy.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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