Feb. 15, 2018

Dear Hyde Park Family,

The last thing the girls and I did in Iowa before returning to Florida in 2015 was to perform in the Cherokee Community Theater’s production of J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s tale Peter Pan. Grace was a Native American girl, Maddy was a lion (and an adorable one at that!) and I was a pirate. (Arrrrghh!)

If you know the story, you know that Peter’s debut scene involves the loss of his shadow. He enters the bedroom of the Darling children, hunting through various chests and drawers until he locates it one of the dressers.

This is no ordinary shadow, of course. In reality, a shadow is just a spot on the ground or the wall. But in the fantasy world of Peter Pan, it has mass and texture, and is animated all on its own. And somehow, it is detached from Peter’s body.

As Peter struggles to reattach himself to his shadow, first with soap and then with Wendy’s needle and thread, we come to realize that Peter’s reconnection to his shadow is not just a whimsical fairy tale feature. It is a commentary on childhood, maturity, and the embrace of pain and loss.

You might even say it involves embracing the uncertain.

Shadows are a natural consequence of light. You cannot have one without the other. Traditionally, darkness represents grief, ignorance, weakness and fear, while light represents hope, gladness, wisdom and courage. But just as light creates shadows, both must be present for the other to exist.

Our culture would want us to believe that the pursuit of light means the denial of darkness, that the shadowy parts of our lives must be rejected and overcome. But perhaps this Lent, your march toward the light of the resurrection should include the embrace of your shadows, rather than its denial.

  • To become wiser, embrace your ignorance.
  • To become better, embrace your faults.
  • To become more helpful, embrace your neediness.
  • To become more proficient, embrace your failures.
  • To become more original, embrace your mundaneness.
  • To become more optimistic, embrace your fears.
  • To become more settled, embrace conflict.
  • To become more joyful, embrace your pain.
  • To become stronger, embrace your weakness.

Yes, you might choose to give up chocolate, or Facebook, or coffee for Lent. It is all fine and well to do so. But this Lenten season, you might be called to give up something deeper. Give up your denial of your shadow. Search for it. Find it. And embrace it.


That is at the heart of our next six weeks together. Each Sunday, we will learn to embrace a different shadowy uncertainty of our lives: doubt, forgiveness, worry, death, surrender, and obedience. Join us for worship in person or live online, and sign up for a small group that will study my new book Embracing the Uncertain.

Pick up a copy of the companion daily devotional or read along with the same scriptures on the Daily Scriptures page of our website. Though we sold out of both books last Sunday, there will be ample supply for you to pick up in the Aldersgate Coffee Shop this Sunday.


In the stage instructions for the play, J.M. Barrie himself wrote this about the moment Peter reunites with his shadow:

“The shadow awakes and is glad to be back with him as he is to have it. He and his shadow dance together.”

Indeed, may you and your shadow learn to dance together.

Blessed Lent to you and yours,

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist


Though our offices will be closed this Monday for Presidents’ Day, our wonderful Portico Café will be open. Come over for a specialty beverage and a delicious meal, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1001 N. Florida Ave. or visit their website.

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