We continue our meditations on Light in this darkest time of the year.

Sunrise in the mountains. Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

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!” 

“Roughly 5.8 billion light years from Earth in the Phoenix constellation, astronomers have confirmed the first example of a galaxy cluster where large numbers of stars are being born at its core.” Photo credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Schellenberger et al.; Optical:SDSS

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?  

Timeline of the universe. Original version: NASA; modified by Cherkash. From Wikimedia Commons.

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. 

Artist’s animated conception of the Big Bang. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

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….

Kirlian photograph of a Dusty Miller leaf. Photo by Mark D Roberts Photography, on Wikimedia Commons

[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?

Recommended Reading

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.

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2 thoughts on “Honoring the Light, continued”

  1. Avatar

    When I was a young child of five, I had my second awakening – I was filled with an intellegent Presence which spoke inside and all around me. It said: everything is made of Light and we are all One.

    I remember going throughout my neighborhood proclaiming this. My neighbors were ‘polite’ but I was treated differently after that. It wasn’t “fun”.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Lee,
      Thank you for sharing your story. What a powerful experience to have had! There is a great and awe-ful divide that comes with spiritual awakenings. They set you apart from those who cannot relate to what you describe. So the gaining of a spiritual awakening can also mean the loss of a secular community or friends. It sets you apart within your context and gives you the hard work of holding on to what you know is true. The less affirmation, the more steadfast you need to be. This after-work is as powerful in developing you as a mystic than the experience itself. Still, somewhere there were others…

      When I was a Director of Formation in a Methodist church, my fourth grade bible class slipped into talking about spiritual experiences. The room was charged with secrets and truth. The children relayed their experiences in hushed tones, as if telling them for the first time. Here, they felt safe. Their friends understood. They had experiences, too. I was thrilled, and quiet as a heartbeat. Childhood is such a fertile time for spiritual experience, and yet we rarely have the opportunity to confirm that they have been blessed with rare divine knowledge.

      I am sorry no one was there for you when you had that powerful revelation at age 5, but I see that you are still living from it. You have met the challenge and it is making you into a mystic. Thank you for staying true to your experience.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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