Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reflection: Austin in Shadows

So I was in Austin for the wedding of some dear friends.  I sang, and I do believe it was the best rendition of Schubert's Ave Maria I ever have had the pleasure of performing.  I was in St. Mary's Cathedral, watching my newlywed friends place a bouquet on the side altar beneath the statue of the Blessed Mother; it just felt so appropriate, so entirely right for me to be there singing that song.  I suppose the Spirit was a-movin,' and He dun got up inside a me, and I couldn't help but sing my heart out.

At the reception a gentlemen offered me what is perhaps the greatest compliment regarding my singing I have every received.  "You did some beautiful excrement," he said, though, 'excrement,' was not the precise word he used.  He said a few more kind words about my... work.  Indeed, never before had it been so effusively praised by a stranger.

What does the above have to do with Austin in Shadows?  Well, it all happened in Austin, but the quality of the lighting at the time really had nothing to do with it.  I just wanted to share the story.

Anyway, did you ever play that game where you can only jump on tiles of a certain color?  When I was little, my father taught me how to play Othello.  Somehow, trying to flip chips from one color to another was translated into hopping on only one color of tile.  Perhaps I thought that I could turn all the white tiles black if I hopped on only black tiles?

My experience walking around Austin in the afternoon reminded me of hopping from black tile to black tile, only, rather than prancing from curb to curb, I was hoofing it from one shady spot to the next.  You see, Austin is hot in the summer, especially at four in the afternoon, and Mr. Sun beats down on those streets like Goku beats up Frieza.  Each shadow was a refuge, an oasis of soothing darkness in the blistering light.  I found myself flitting from shadow to shadow to keep cool.  Ok, maybe a guy my size (nearly six-four) does not, 'flit,' but it was a nice image.

It made me think about the symbolism of darkness vs. light.  So often in classical works, dark is evil and light is good.  Too often in modern works do the roles get reversed so the writer can feel clever.  Not nearly often enough are both darkness and light recognized as good; different, but good.  Going back to Mary, I think it is important to remember that the Light of the World first incarnated in the darkness of her womb.  Life grows in the dark.  Dreams are woven and love is made at night.  When God created light, He also created darkness.

So, I guess the lesson is that, while evil is done in the dark, dark itself is not evil.  It, too, is a child of God, and should be embraced in its proper way.  Naturally, one does not treat darkness the same as one treats light; but one should treat them both well.

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