Let There Be Light

There is just something about light. I can’t help but notice it at this time of year when we change our clocks.

What happens  to my normal sense of time? I look up and notice a V-shaped flock of birds, flapping through the clouds. Where are  they headed? I get my bearings, figuring out the east-west axis of Queens Boulevard and realize to my delight, that they are heading north.

They are coming home for spring.

 

Birds, of course, don’t need to reset their clocks. They are guided by some internal mystery. But I wonder if they, too, are beguiled and guided by the extra hour of light. Do the longer days beckon them home?

Light, of course, is such a powerful part of our faith. It is there in candles and torches, in votives and stained glass. It is there during the Easter Vigil, when a brilliant bonfire explodes into tiny flames throughout the church and the creation of the world is re-told and remembered. It is there, too, in our salvation: “Christ is our light!”

In one of the oldest and most evocative prayers, the Israelites are told to pray that God will let His face shine upon them.
They are praying, of course, for light—the golden light of God’s love and mercy.

The ancients had only daylight and candlelight to guide them—no lightbulbs, no flashlights, no street lamps. Darkness was all-enveloping, and often terrifying. But light—that was their great hope. The rising of the sun, or the lighting of a campfire, could dispel fear. The unknown became known. The shadows were given names and faces, shape and substance. All because God had let His face shine upon them.

This time of year, as Lent draws to a close and Easter approaches, we again are able to see more clearly and discern the patterns of our lives. It is more than Daylight Saving Time. It is God Saving Time. Or, more aptly, it is God Saving Us Time. With the approach of spring and the promise of rebirth, we are given the tantalizing hope that we can begin again. Death is conquered, and life is affirmed. That, at least, is the deepest meaning of Easter.

It is there even now, if we open our eyes and our hearts to it. It is there in the blessed light of early evening. It is there in the birds returning home. It is there in the extra hours of daylight that dispel darkness.

God’s face is shining.

Or, as He proclaimed at the first dawn: Let there be light.

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