Monday, September 29, 2008



Light is the beginning.

It rained earlier that afternoon in Wisconsin country. I was three-and-a-half-years-old. When the storm passed, Mother got us ready to go shopping in town. Dressed in my little white sun dress, blond hair combed and beribboned, “best” sandals strapped to my feet, I was allowed outside with a stern admonition to “stay clean” while Mother got my baby brother ready.

I headed for the upper gravel driveway above our sloping back yard. A delightful mud puddle had formed beneath a giant oak tree. I remember standing in that puddle, that oozy mud squishing splendidly between my toes, gazing up into the canopy high above me. Beams of sunlight shown down through the branches and rain drops sparkled like millions of diamonds stuck to the leaves.

It was a numinous moment; a child's heaven. By the time my Mother found me, I was dripping wet, covered in that splendid mud and had lost my hair ribbons. I've been in awe of light ever since.

Light came first. Genesis 1:3 says God pronounced “Let there be light.” Science's big bang theory puts a lot of light out there too. Regardless of whether you lean toward the Biblical version or the big bang (I accept both), they begin basically with the same thing. Light is life.

When my now-grown son was a small boy, he and I delighted in pointing out “God Sky” to each other. You've seen it; that wonderful phenomena in which rays of the western sun blaze through dark roiling clouds after storms, or beam over the distant mountain peaks just at sunset, delivering a celestial blessing across the landscape. “God Sky” became our shared wonder. The light that lingers on the peaks stays longer, glows richer, becomes other-worldly, the higher you are. Which may account for the fondness he has for the high places.

The light of a single match can be seen in absolute darkness at a great distance. Light as a metaphor for hope, authenticity, knowledge, goodness and love is as old as recorded history. When things are bleak and we don't know what to do, we talk about being “in the dark.” When the rest of the crowd is following each others tails, we admire someone “living by their own lights.” When we see two people in love, we say that we can see “the light of love” shining in their eyes.

An age is called 'dark,' not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it,” noted James Michener. The world seems to be in need of more light right now. Maybe some more salt too. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that I could use more light shining on me this fall, but that would miss the point. Instead of taking it in and keeping it, the world need us to be reflecting light into the world. It's as if by doing so we become both a battery and a mirror; re-energized, we shine hope and light and love on others. I don't necessarily write biblically. But you might want to read Matthew 5:13-16. It's an astounding message! “You are the salt of the earth,” it says. “You are the light of the world!” Reflect on that – and then let it shine.

©2008 Jan Johnson Wondra


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