Advent Day 7 ~ The Lesson of the Shadows

image © bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved.

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

I have learned to be intrigued by the shadows of my life, Lord.
The stronger the light, the deeper the shadow.
I have come to realize there will always be shadows.

I must accept the shadows of my life as well as the light; they will just always be there.

And so I now  pause for a moment when a shadow greets me;
and take in its beauty.

Teach me to  stop and be confronted, to be changed,  by them.

This day, Lord, help me to realize what the shadows of my life can teach me
about You and Your great love for me.

Editors note:  This was my very first blog post on December 5, 2007.                                                                                                                        

I had two priests write back and say: “Thank you, Bob.                                                                                                                                                  I wonder what they were saying?                                                                                                                                                                                              I pay a lot of attention to shadows in my photography.

It’s “both ~ and.” That’s the way life is.

Carl Jung in psychology got us to pay attention to the Shadow side of life.

If we deny they’re there, we’re in trouble.

If we embrace our Shadow, make friends with it,

we become whole.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

What’s your “wonder” quotient?


Easter isn’t over yet. We Catholics celebrate it for fifty days, ten longer than Lent.

Here’s an Easter homily I gave a few year’s back:

“Awesome, dude, the surfer said of the huge wave that was larger than life. “Totally awesome!” He was full of awe, full of wonder. He respected the sea; he revered it.

Something awesome’s overwhelming, impressive, venerable, stately, moving, regal. Something wonderful’s awe-inspiring, remarkable, amazing, astonishing, “unreal,” “unbelievable.” To wonder about something is to ponder, meditate, reflect, marvel at, think about something wonderful.

What are You in awe of, my friend? What do you wonder about?

This little guy is reading the Declaration of Independence emblazoned on the wall of the Jefferson MemorialThis little guy’s reading the Declaration of Independence emblazoned on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial

Here are a few things to test your “Wonder Quotient.”

Ponder each one for a moment.

. . . Have you ever sat in silence on a mountaintop, gazing at the stars?

. . . Have you ever wondered how many there are? How the earth stays in orbit?

. . . Have you ever wondered how our heart can keep beating nearly a billion times in a lifetime?

. . . How the Internet can call up the page you want in an instant from millions of pages?

. . . How God can keep track of the prayers of millions ~ billions o’ people?

. . . How your dog knows what he knows?

. . . How a friend can love you as much as they do?

.  . . How Christianity has survived for tho thousand years?

. . . a surgeon can repair the heart, the size of a grape, of a child in the womb?

The act of wondering is not meant so much to understand something as to be caught up in the mystery of it ~ the unknown, the unknowable ~ as the surfer is caught up in the mystery of the wave.

A person who has no sense of wonder can have no spirituality.

Wondering leads us to God, to the totally Other.

Have you ever wondered about the Resurrection of Jesus?

Have you ever wondered how we will rise with Jesus?

What eternal life will be like?

What the dawn of our share of eternity will be like?

Do you think it will be wonderful — awesome?

Do these things beckon you, call you?

The Risen Christ can draw us forward. We are called to ponder our future with the Lord.

This means thinking about our death as well. Looking beyond our dying to our rising to eternal life. It means putting our life in order. It requires some reflection on our part. Some yearning, some joy, some wonder.

Here are the words of the ancient Easter proclamation, the dramatic beginning of the Easter liturgy.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpets of salvation.

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
Radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
Echoing the might song of all God’s people.
… the “Exultet” from the Easter Vigil liturgy

Easter does not begin with such exultation.

The apostles and the women disciples were crestfallen and fearful. It took them a while to take in what was happening. Fifty days later they were still bewildered. So it is not surprising that many of us take some time before we ”exult” in the Risen Christ. Even for Jesus, he forever bears the marks of his wounds. Forever risen, he is also forever slain. The joy of Easter is powerful. It is so powerful it can penetrate suffering and sorrow and even persecution. It is the joy that lasts forever and does emerge in us from time to time to exult in exaltation. May you find that joy this Easter deep down in your heart.

The Risen Christ is the focus of our hope as Christians. In fact, no Resurrection, no Christianity. For some of us , we are filled with joy. Our lives are bright and airy and cheerful. For others of us, demonstrations of joy do not come easy. Nevertheless, believing steadfastly in risen life for Jesus and for us, gives us something powerful to hang on to. In the act of hoping is our joy!
“Hope springs eternal” is indeed a worthy and powerful statement.

Let’s take the Resurrection personally this Easter. It’s our greatest gift ~ the gift of  eternal life, the gift of our joy, our hope.

Something awesome to wonder about.

Jesus is risen!

             Indeed he is risen!

Look for the signs of new life in the midst of your difficulties.

Take time to stop and wonder at the beauty of a delicate flower, the breeze caressing your face, the little things that make life worth living.

Expand your wonder quotient today.

Now, before you go, take time for some toe’-tappin, roof-raisin’ glory-spillin’ music! Click here, turn up your speakers and be sure to enter full screen and if you don’t have a Happy Day you’re waitin’ for da darn undertaker.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Continue reading

Being known and loved anyway

an image borrowed from magisteria.files.wordpress.comWith thanks to

Dear Friends,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter has my favorite story of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Its my also my favorite image of Jesus. It’s the perfect image for us today.  (See Scripture below for your reflection.)

It took me a long time to realize that shepherds walked down the road ahead of their flock.  And the sheep simply followed.  They just responded to his voice.

What a wonderful model for leadership of any kind.  Not coercing.  Not goading.  Not threatening. Not saying “If you don’t follow, you’re going to hell.”

Jesus just wants to lead the way.  He wants to BE the way because he walked the path ahead of us.  He knows what human life is about.

And more than that, he says “I know mine and mine know me.”

He’s talking about knowing us personally for who we are inside, who we really are.  He delights in those under his care. He rejoices in us.  He wants to be very close to us.

And he wants us to know him personally and intimately, too.  That’s all.

That’s enough.  For those of us  who know, who realize, that God loves us, lifts us up, supports us, wants us to be who we are, that is just enough.

This is the Jesus I know and love.  Jesus has invited me into a personal relationship with him and because of that, makes all the difference in the way I live and love.

I, too, want to shepherd like that. To be an example to others.  To lead and to know and care for those in my life.

Today’s gospel says theirs a difference between a Good Shepherd and a hired hand who abandons the flock when things get rough.  The Good Shepherd will leave the flock and search for the lost sheep and bring them home.

I love this image of Jesus.   He’s my model of what a priest should be like — or a parent or a teacher or a coach.  I just hope that I can continue to be a good shepherd.


many of us have the role of shepherding others.

May we rejoice in that sacred honor and privilege

and do it well, not for profit but for love.

May we never betray that trust.

May we always delight in also being cared for by You.

To You be honor and glory and praise!


John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Now before you go, enjoy this  rousing Alleluia set to text of the Easter gospel with terrific images  Be sure to enter full screen.  Click here.

Have a great day as we continue to celebrate our joyous Easter season

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Another post will follow.