Shadow on the Rock

Shadow of the Rock

Matthew 15:21-28


by Daniel Berrigan, SJ

“At Hiroshima there’s a museum 

and outside that museum there’s a rock, 

and on that rock there’s a shadow. 

That shadow is all that remains 

of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945 

when the nuclear age began. 

In the most real sense of the word, 

that is the choice before us. 

We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race now in this generation,

or we will become Shadows On the Rock.”

August 6 is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. It is a day of infamy in that innocent people were destroyed in the name of ending a war–not soldiers, but innocent civilians; it is a day that ignited the Atomic Age, and hurled us into being the most powerful nation on earth.

The shadow of that day hangs over us in our divisiveness by ethnic, political, and social-economical labels.

“When we label others, we stop seeing them as they are. We see them only as we are determined to see them, as we have decided that they must be. It’s important, then, to ask ourselves: Can I set aside my labels and take a fresh look?” Brother David Vryhof

A practice we have found useful is to sit in silence, to sit still, and to let our inner selves listen, and in so doing we will see that we are all the same–we all have the same needs, and expressed in the most awful ways, and that if we meet each other half way, we can find agreement, if we meet people on the level of mercy, rather than vengeance, we can find peace. Henri Nouwen wrote:

“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should, therefore, be the subject of our most personal attention.”

We have a choice: to become shadows on the rock, to no longer exist, to destroy ourselves in so many ways, or we can shine brightly as beacons of love, kindness, inclusiveness, and mercy.

“Lord Jesus, it was at night that you taught Nicodemus the mystery of our rebirth in water and the Spirit. As we keep vigil this night to hear your Word, bring to birth in us the new self which is your own creation, and we will come to the light and live by the truth, today and for ever. Amen. (Benedictine Daily Prayer) Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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