One of our CPC pastors always closes her emails with the phrase, “In the Light.” Like many of you, I find the metaphor of light to be appealing. Seeing clearly. Understanding the truth. Of course, it’s Biblical: “In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:4-05 NRSV. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2 NRSV. There’s also that early Pilgrim nod to continuing testimony. Pastor John Robinson’s farewell words to the departing Separatists are frequently quoted, “There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word.”
I realize the metaphor isn’t always helpful. Good light, and bad dark are destructive concepts when it comes to race. The concept of moral blindness is hurtful to someone who has no sight. But for poets and preachers, “in the light …” has a lot to say.
I recently gained a richer understanding of the phrase. On a day of unusual morning sunshine in Portland, I parked my car and walked across the upper parking lot. I stopped when I felt a surprise warmth. I looked up, and saw the sun reflecting off one of the windows of the condominiums to the west. The bounced rays were intensified. I stepped forward, into the cool air. Then back, again, into the ribbon of heat. I could see the light – making the early spring colors vibrate around me. But I could also feel the light!
I thought about how often we take light for granted. It’s part of the background. Unless we lose electrical power to our home, or find ourselves overcome by the depressive darkness of night, we assume that light will be present, and we’ll see where we’re going. Walking “in the light” is what we expect. And yet, there are times when we feel the intensity of “light” – times when we are in awe of beauty and truth. These are the times when we feel deep satisfaction and a sense of wholeness. These times of feeling the light are what Russian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “optimal experience” or “flow.” Sounds a little like, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NRSV.
May we be “in the light,” seeing and feeling, as we follow Jesus On the Way.