I haven’t exactly been hanging out on street corners at night lately, and have not shifted my profession to a woman of the night (chortle!) but I have had occasion to be out riding around at night and I’m loving it. It is the season of light – at a time of the year when we need it the most.
I wonder if you had a chance to be out last night. There was a full moon and it was glorious. I had a small dinner party and was the transportation before and after for one of my guests which afforded us an early evening view as we drove to my home. The moon was low in the sky, fully round, with just a few streams of clouds in front of it, making for a sacred moment in our ride.
But of course at this time there are also holiday lights adorning town centers and many homes, either inside, outside, or both. While I am a believer in the Christian tradition I am as well aware that we have no sole claim on light – either symbolically or in wisdom. For Christians, Jesus is the light coming into the world to reveal truth and to banish all darkness; hence the symbolism of stars and candles in this Advent and Christmas season. In Judaism candlelight is often thought of as a reminder of God’s divine presence; when used, candles serve as reminders that the occasion is holy, and separate from day-to-day life. Consistent with both Christianity and Judaism, Muslims recognize that there is only one God; one of the divine names of their holy book the Koran is an-Nur, the Light, and the Koran speaks of God as the source of all knowledge as well as the means whereby we catch a glimpse of transcendence. Buddhism too celebrates light – it signifies the stability and clarity of patience, and is that which dispels all ignorance.
In my surfing I came across a news article by someone named Lee Krenis More who wrote a piece about a 1992 film called “Enchanted April.” He describes the scene: “...[in the] miserable wet gloom of a London winter, a woman spots an ad for a 'small medieval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean' to rent for a month. She takes the plunge, arriving at the castle late at night in a thunderstorm. In the morning she goes to her bedroom window and opens the wooden shutters. Suddenly, light floods her face The sea glitters below; the sun-drenched garden is lush with roses and pink geraniums. Everything is gloriously, intensely alive. [He concludes] …We associate light with all that is joyous, vital and good, and darkness with all that is sad, stunted and deadening.
Our world’s varied religious concepts around light, as well as cultural expressions around the impact of light in our lives touch on the meaning of the word “light”: something that makes things visible or affords illumination. The light – in creation, stars, moon, candlelight, knowledge, wisdom or clarity, in all of creation – is an unveiling, a revelation, in which we find hope and joy.
If you haven’t been out driving around taking in the joy of light – man’s or God’s – make a plan to do it this week!