We continue our meditations on Light in this darkest time of the year.
In Genesis we learn that the first thing created was light. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called Light ‘day,’ and darkness God called ’night.’ Evening came and morning came the first day.” In psalm 104 the psalmist sings of how Divinity itself comes robed in light. “Yahweh my God how great you are! Clothed in majesty and glory, wrapped in a robe of light!”
The word glory (doxa in Greek) bespeaks light, radiance and splendor. Earth is “filled with the glory of God” we are told, and God is “king of glory” who has poured out the divine radiance into creation. We are alerted to how “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.”
How different is this from today’s creation story from science where we learn that the universe began with a fireball that grew from a compressed light smaller than a pinprick to an expanding fire over 750,000 years?
When the fireball finally burned out, it passed on its offspring of atoms that would in turn give birth to galaxies, supernovas, stars, the sun, our earth, plants that eat sunlight in the process of photosynthesis, and animals, including ourselves, who also eat, breathe, and bask in sunlight. Indeed, even our brains emit photons or light waves when we put creative ideas together.
Listening to the new storytellers about Creation’s origins, one is swimming in stories about fireballs and photons and light. Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme tell the story this way.
Fifteen billion years ago, in a great flash,
the universe flared forth into being.
In each drop of existence
a primordial energy blazed with an intensity
never to be equaled again….
In the beginning the universe is a great shining
that expands rapidly and then explodes into hundreds of billions of dark clouds….
[Later] a hundred billion galaxies light up with a splendor
new to the universe.
The beginning of the universe is a smooth, intense flame.
A few billion years later the large-scale structure of the universe
glows in great sheets of galaxies
and in their intersections in long, spidery filaments of sparkling worlds.
Science is instructing us that matter is trapped light; slow-moving light; or “frozen light” as physicist David Bohm puts it.
We are made of light! This is not just true of human flesh but of all flesh–the oranges we eat and the tea we drink, the grasses and the animals, the birds and the stars—all are slow-moving light.
Matter is light. It is very special light.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 63, 51.
Banner image: Sunrise over the Earth as seen from space. Photographer unknown.
Queries for Contemplation
Yahweh comes “wrapped in a robe of light” says the psalmist. Might this explain why so many world traditions equate Divinity with Light? Does it also tell of the omnipresence of the Divine and the intimacy of it if, as today’s science tells us, all matter is slow moving light?
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.
Biologist Rupert Sheldrake and theologian Matthew Fox show that not only is the synthesis of science and spirituality possible, it is to be celebrated when one considers the extraordinary insights they have come upon in their work. The chasm between science and religion has been a source of intellectual and spiritual tension for centuries, but in these ground breaking dialogues there is a remarkable resonance between these once opposing camps.