Sometimes shadows hide things. It’s easy to image in the near-dark of late dusk that they cloak monsters or wild animals or evil men, waiting for the last light to fade completely before they leap (or creep) out to attack us. We think that perhaps if we sit very, very still, don’t bat an eyelash, don’t make a sound, barely dare to breathe, we can pass the night unmolested. Or maybe we’re paralyzed because the shadows are concealing our way. We don’t go forward for fear of missing a signpost or a fork in the road, or stepping off into a mire of quicksand or over the edge of an unseen precipice.
Those dangers are, of course, real possibilities, and sometimes — sometimes — sitting down and waiting for the light to return before moving on may be the wisest course of action. But not always, and never permanently. We can’t stay forever in the makeshift huts we build ourselves on the edges of the shadowy places, which, if we’re at all honest, we know don’t offer any real protection anyway. Sometimes we need to look at the shadows differently through the last shreds of sunset or the final flickers of our guttering torches. This is affirmed in another definition of the word: shelter from danger or observation.
Sometimes shadows hide us, screening us from they eyes of those who would harm us, providing us cover to slip past hostile sentinels unnoticed. They may, blessedly, shroud obstacles we would think insurmountable, or veil perils that would freeze our blood if we could see them clearly. Perhaps they prevent our being deceived into taking what would look, in broad daylight, like a shortcut or an easier road to our intended destination. Shadows might make us more alert to the soft touch of a guiding hand, more apt to hear a still, small voice.