Have you ever wondered why Shane gets a "sliver" in her finger in A Hope & A Future? You probably thought the same as I did---a way to get Shane to Oliver’s desk somehow. But when we put the term "sliver" in context, a much deeper narrative---and important message---emerge.
First, watch this:
Before we get to Shane’s moment, we actually need to back up to Norman and Ardis in the tunnels:
“When I finally gave up, I laid down on the ground, and that's when I saw it... a sliver of light. I hadn't noticed it before. That's when I knew everything was gonna be okay… I like coming down here. It reminds me that, no matter how dark it gets, light will always find a way in.”
Norman tells a story of hope in a dark time here, and his use of the term “sliver” is critical, because it gave a frame of reference for how Shane used the word in the scene that immediately followed. We know there’s an important connection between the two scenes, because the scene with Norman and Ardis is intentionally split by the scene between Rita and Shane in the DLO. After Oliver stuffs the letter into his coat pocket, the following scene rejoins Norman and Ardis. If there wasn’t a connection, there would have been no reason for the episode to be edited this very particular way.
Later in the episode, Ardis also specifically told Norman, “you are my sliver of light.” Keeping this in mind, not only are there moments of light that remind us “everything is [going] to be okay,” but also people who provide that same hope and light if we take a moment to truly look.
Usually when I get something in my finger that can only be removed with tweezers, I refer to it as a “splinter,” NOT a “sliver.” So there is some connotation or association embedded in the term “sliver” that we’re supposed to be paying attention to as this scene unfolds.
Where Norman meant it in terms of light and hope, Shane associates a “sliver” with something that needs removed or extracted because, we can assume, it’s causing pain. So it should be no surprise that Shane’s pursuit of an extraction tool leads her directly from her physical “sliver” to her theoretical one---Holly. “Long story, long sliver,” indeed.
But what if, in the moment, Shane was so busy seeing the pain, that she missed the "sliver" of hope contained in the simple fact the letter even existed? Its existence meant Oliver was inching ever closer to ending his “limbo and start living [his] life.”
Perhaps this explained why she never appeared to find those tweezers she was searching for---physical or theoretical. She didn’t have the “tool” to remove the “sliver” (or Holly) herself, and otherwise “missed [the tweezers]” (the perspective of hope embedded in the existence of the letter) recruiting Rita to double-check, cleverly, Norman’s desk.
The only way to truly remove the “sliver” would be for Oliver to send the letter, and the pain associated with Holly be subsequently worked through. The hope that reality was on the horizon was very much present, but blinded by her emotions and her fear of “what happens next” prevented Shane from perceiving it.
Interestingly, there’s another abstract, “sliver” at play in this episode as well.
Despite not coming in contact with the tweezers directly, there is an abstract connection to be made between Oliver and Norman’s “sliver of light.” The situation with Holly was a very obviously painful “sliver” in Oliver’s life. And just as Ardis identified Norman as her “sliver of light,” so Shane could be considered the same for Oliver.
As Shane so correctly identified in the lobby, Oliver would not have begun processing and working through the situation with Holly in a tangible way if not for her incrementally guiding him---however intentionally or unintentionally---towards resolution. The steps painful for both parties, it was only through this pain that hope---and the future on the other side---could be made possible. And Shane accompanied Oliver through this journey all the way to challenging his “I’m not afraid to mail this letter,” countering it with “Then what are you afraid of?” the answer to which was a critical juncture for Oliver.
What’s incredible about the already loaded moment in the rain is that both Shane and Oliver are staring at hope, but neither see it for what it is. Deciding to finally deal with his long-suffered “sliver,” Oliver struggled to mail the letter in the closing minutes of the episode. Alone on the cold, dark, rainy plaza, it’s only after the mailbox door snapped shut that Oliver sensed he was being watched. Engaging in an act of faith by sending the letter, Shane appeared, as if he finally “saw her”---and the hope and future she ultimately embodied---for the first time, the “sliver of light” to let him know that no matter how dark it appeared at the time, “everything was going to be okay.” In the moment, however, neither one of them possessed the ability to perceive the true magnitude of the hope in front of them.
Of course, it all ties directly to the true focal point of this episode---the scripture that lay at the heart of A Hope & A Future, “For I know the plans I have for you, Declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
The context of this scripture is important because it wasn't being given in a time of rainbows and butterflies. In fact, it was written in a letter to a people in exile---some because of their disobedience to God, others simply as a consequence of the actions of others. Not only were they in exile, but God put them there for no less than 70 years. In the letter, through Jeremiah, God instructed them on how to conduct themselves during that time because, despite being in a foreign land, God wanted them to find peace and prosperity even during their exile. Through verse 11, God promised the people that although it didn't appear that way, He had a plan to bless them and give them the future for which they were hoping, a promise He ultimately fulfilled in His timing.
We have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways, and because of that, we won’t always understand why we’re encountering certain “slivers” (seasons or situations) in our lives, particularly painful ones. But God does have a plan, and He will show signs of hope as we continue to persevere through our trials---no matter how short (like we can imagine Norman's time in the cellar) or long (Shane, Oliver and the situation with Holly) they are. What we learn, and the growth we undergo in the process, will allow us to prosper in the future God has for us if we continue to persevere and move forward. The beauty is, as Norman discovered in the cellar, and Shane and Oliver would in From Paris With Love, we don't have to wait to experience that hope as we wait on God's timing---"light will always find a way in" or, as in From Paris With Love, "Spring is almost here."
Fortunately for Norman, his sign of hope in A Hope & A Future was a literal "sliver of light." For Shane and Oliver, the sign of hope required faith, not sight, to be perceived. It looked like a letter, which, for the pair, represented a great deal of pain, as well as fear of the unknown in "what happened next." But in the scheme of God's plan for them, it was the next step in the path towards the true hope and beautiful future we continue to see unfold before them.