My Shadows Haunt Me but My Lights Lift Me Up


Grief Is the Price We Pay for Love – Queen Elizabeth II

Origami, Paper, Bird, Tinker, Shadow, Caught, Folded

When you hear the word “shadow,” do you think about the light that casts a part of an object into darkness or do you think of the darkness itself? I suppose that is like asking if your cup is half empty or half full. In that regard, my cup must be half empty. When I hear the word “shadow,” I think of gloomy lightlessness–I hear the voice of Orson Welles, and my ghosts begin to circle around me, stopping me in my tracks.

Antique, Blade, Bluegrass, Child, Dress, Female, FieldI am in the process of writing my memoir, and before now, I have shared many happy, colorful memories with you; but the story will not be complete until I find the courage to tell the rest of the story.

Elephant, African, African Bush Elephant, Animals

I am getting older now, and when I talk to other people my age, I realize that some of them have begun to forget their childhoods.Like an elephant, I never forget!

Gate, Door, Court, Shadow, Open, Entrance, Doorway

Perhaps other people simply wanted to forget their childhoods and they shut that gate so long ago, that nothing can pry it open now. Perhaps they are in denial and they have mistaken denial for forgetting. I really don’t know why some people remember and some people forget. One of my agonies and my ecstasies is that I remember EVERYTHING! My door is wide open.

Cowboy, Shadow, America, Farm, People, Man, Bucket

And much of what I remember causes me pain. Some of my pain is because what I love about my childhood is gone and I can never bring it back and some of my pain is because of things that absolutely should never have happened.

For instance, I remember the shadows of the smiles of old boyfriends and of the days when I was a young mother. It is odd that even good shadows can also cause us pain in later years.

Grief Is the Price We Pay for Love – Queen Elizabeth II

Tree, Child, Kids, Boy, Preschool, Black, Infant

At this point in my life, my shadows become tangled. When my good memories try to dance with my bad memories, cords wrap around my feet, and the blackness tries to swallow everything.

Wall, Shadow, Graffity, Rainbow, Man, Homosexuality

I have to remind myself that the shadow war is normal. Writing my memoir is one way that I can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Daffodil drawn and shaded in colored pencil by one of my 7th grade art students

Only yesterday, I was teaching some children how to draw and shade a daffodil, and one child’s daffodil was all one color. Unlike the above drawing that is shaded beautifully, the other child had failed to distinguish the lights from the darks. Any time that we do that, ANY TIME that we allow our darks and our lights to merge, we lose our perspectives, and we lose the light that makes life worth living. Likewise, we fail to find a home for our darks.

Tulip, White Wall, Shadow, Sunny Day, Spring, Yellow

In my own life now, I still realize that I have shadows that are ghosts, and they haunt me.

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend — I’ve Simply Come to Talk to You Again!

[Thank you, fellow blogger-friend for directing me to the Disturbed video]

But even in my darkness, I am continuously reminded that much of my life is lived in light. God Bless My Lights and God Cradle My Shadows. Help Me Bring Them Home.

©Jacki Kellum May 6, 2016

The Alchemist
by Jacki Kellum

Passing evenings catching lightning bugs and playing hide and seek beneath a foggy and haloed street lamp, most of my childhood seemed like a Fourth-of-July, lamp-lit picnic, and fragments of cold and juicy red, watermelon stars seemed to stream across my sky.

Indeed, most of my childhood was mysticaI and filled with shimmering shards of light.
At least, that is how I wanted it to seem. During most of my childhood, however, I was an alchemist. I learned to turn tin into gold.

I needed the golden light that I managed to prick from the briars and the thorns that tried to weave my windows shut, and I needed to transform the shadows that threatened to take away my light.

Perhaps oddly, however, I am not a person who enjoys the harsh, too-revealing, mood-stripping glare of overhead ceiling lights either, and I think that fluorescent lights are an abomination. Perhaps I am only ready to see and say the partial light.

Honestly, I do prefer ambient light — like the ambiance from the flicker of a fireplace or a campfire. I also like the filtered light like that comes from a chalky moon that is settling just outside. Even during the day, I prefer the natural sunlight that streams through my casements and  into my room.

When I was a girl, there was a big picture window across the front of my house,
and when our Christmas tree reflected into that window, I felt like Pollyanna,
just after she had discovered the rainbow-colored prisms of Mrs. Snow’s chandelier.
Like Pollyanna, I loved to watch the colors dance, and I feel sure that I painted rainbows at times when there was no light at all.

Rainbows red, golden yellow, blazing orange, precious pink, bashful blue, spring-fresh lavender, and green–gloriously happy and ever-growing green. I have needed to paint rainbows all my life.

Good and Evil–Darkness and Light–I suppose that everyone is more comfortable when there is light.

Not long ago, I was sleeping soundly one night, and I was dreaming about festoons of garden lights. It was the middle of the night, and my dog woke me. There were no lamps illuminating my room and it was dark. As soon as I first stirred, I sensed a further darkening, and I looked outside my window.

One moment, sparkling, twinkling lights had cradled me as I slept, and the next moment–if only for a second–all was like tar.

We have little control over what passes through our minds during sleep and over what washes over us, just as we are aroused.

While I am fully awake, I work to weave rainbows through the holes that fill my heart,
but at night time, I lose control. I am no longer the weaver. I am no longer the alchemist–the person who transforms tarnished tin into precious metal.

No doubt, my shadows stem from those times in my childhood that actually were not the Fourth of July or Christmas. No doubt, the tar-darkness that falls upon my nights is because something has escaped from a dank and musty spot that lies deep within my soul–the place where ghosts go to lurk about.

Hiding from the light, skulking in the shadows of the night, the rainbow thief keeps returning to steal my pot of gold.

©Jacki Kellum May 6, 2016

©Jacki Kellum May 6 2016

“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” – Edith Wharton




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