This far north the sun is setting by four in the afternoon, so when going for my daily walk everything, the snow, buildings, people, was bathed in hues of rose and an almost translucent gold.
Indeed I found myself today fascinated by the light causing the crystals of the ice fog to dance as if golden diamond dust was being scattered about to ease the weight of poverty, the bent over tiredness of the homeless.
I also was fascinated as never before by the little clouds of breath emanating from people [ in my case at minus 20 breathing means ice forms on my beard! ] as the setting sun’s light made those little clouds of breath shimmer with light.
Fire, Salt and Light!
I have written about the reason for Fire and Salt in the title of this blog and now can give the reason for choosing light – or rather reasons and sources, the above experience being one such.
In the Office of Readings for the 28th week of Ordinary Time, we find this in the writings of St. Columban: Jesus, our most loving Saviour, be pleased to light our lanterns, so that they may burn forever in Your temple, receiving eternal light from You, the eternal light, to lighten our darkness and to ward off from us the darkness of the world.
This yearning is first answered for us when we are Baptized and enlightened by the Holy Spirit in our souls while at the same time light is taken from the Paschal Candle, held aloft at Easter as we cry out: “Christ our Light!”, and a candle-lantern is given to us.
Isaiah promises us [60:19ff] of the great time coming when we shall have no other light but the Lord Himself who ‘will be your light forever.’
As with love, however, I suspect our yearning is to be filled with light, just as we yearn to be filled with love, but the pesky insistence of Christ our Light over and over again is NOT about what we can expect to GET, rather about what we should be passionately, tirelessly, willing to give.
Thus: You are the light of the world; let your light shine; walk while you have the light; put your trust in the light before darkness overtakes you. [cf. Mt.5:14,16 & Jn.12:35,36]
The communications, medical, yes military, entertainment, etc. uses made of light in its various forms from fibre optics to lasers, are all around us – but Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that: The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. [Mt.6:22]
If my inner attitude, when shining the lamp of my eyes upon another, is disdain because of their colour or they are dirty and sleeping over a steam grate; or they wear a yarmulke or a turban; if the purpose of shining the lamp of my eyes upon another is to see them as an object of disordered desire, so even if not addicted to pornography the way I gaze upon people, wherever I happen to encounter them, is the ravenousness of evil intent, then my eyes become bad: thus, says Jesus: Your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, what a great darkness that will be! [Mt.6:23]
Imagine then why we find ourselves dwelling in a world of darkness, a culture of death.
Most of us, for decades now, have read all sorts of studies pro and con about the impact of television and film on our culture. Not for me to try and resolve this debate which goes on ad nauseam with, it seems to me, both television and film not only constantly numbing down [ yes numbing! ] our culture, which means we human persons, but increasing a pseudo-light to replace the True Light as St. John notes in his prologue: Light has come into the world…[cf. Jn.3:19] but we seem to prefer the darkness instead.
What the pseudo-light of television does, for example, is present a notion of the world, both in fiction and biased newscasts, which at its most basic causes most people to live in fear: fear that sees the very earth itself as a dangerous reality because while earthquakes and hurricanes occur in a very narrow moment of time, they are replayed over and over and over. Same with airliner crashes, murders, terrorist acts and so forth.
Such events then become movies of the week!
We are exposed to a relentless diet of various forms of martial and extra-martial couplings; the insatiable greed of games shows; the sad spectacle of pseudo-apprentices learning no higher skill than being humiliated before an audience of millions of their brothers and sisters.
We are fed a diet of relativism by talking heads, not to mention the so-called family shows where milquetoast husbands/fathers appear semi-illiterate, while aggressive career wives/mothers, outshone by kids whom, frankly, my Grandfather would have known how to deal with!
No! Not by spanking but simply because he KNEW he was a man, an adult, and therefore knowing how secure he was in his own person he was very easy to respect, to listen to, to trust.
I remember watching a Star Trek the Next Generation show about some alien….
[ btw notice how all non-humans are aliens even though ‘they’ outnumber us….a lot of real human beings are dismissed by use of the term too.] …anyway his own people want to kill him and the point of the story is, as the alien says it: “Transfiguration!”
So – a key event and reality of the Person of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, celebrated as a Solemnity of the Church each year [ also the day on which we used the ‘light and fire’ of an atomic bomb to ‘salt’ the earth with death ] becomes NOT something which, through His Sanctifying work, is the Holy Spirit’s to accomplish within the being of we children of the Light – but is simply a process of metamorphosis to which anyone can aspire without metanoia, conversion, change of heart.
The darkness is everywhere so it is perhaps more urgent than ever in human history that we, disciples of the Light who came into this world of darkness, Light-Bearers by Baptism, truly begin to take seriously the warning from Jesus that we have but a brief time within which to walk in the light and begin not only walking but shining our light, which is to shine Christ our Light, all around, pushing back as best we can the darkness of the culture of death.
That means not being afraid, it means taking up our cross, His cross, everyday and following Him who assures us that: My yoke is easy and My burden light.