"Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us;
shedding light over this world can alone help us."
- Walt Whitman -
BLOTTING OUT THE SUN
The longer I live in Midtown Manhattan I find myself forgetting the characteristics of wide-open-spaces when I visit them.
I live in one of the most vertically dense parts of New York City. It starts to get dark in my neighborhood around 5PM when the sun has dipped far beyond high-noon, disappearing behind the buildings. If you look up, the daylight is still there, but you'd think it was 7 or 8PM if you were looking at the ground.
I spent last week in rural Pennsylvania.
Strange thing about rural Pennsylvania; it was as bright as noonday until about 8:30PM. It was confusing to me (and confusing to my children) demolishing their sleep schedule (help me, Jesus) that they had become so accustomed to in NYC since birth.
I don't know if Whitman wrote the above quote in a rural setting or an urban one, but it rings true. His words cut through the foggy myth of darkness.
EPIPHANIES AND ICE CREAM
So there I was in rural PA sitting in a car in the parking lot of an ice cream shop with my infant son asleep in the back seat. I was waiting for my spouse and my daughter to make it through the mile long line of suburban ice-cream-cravers.
I thought it was about five o' clock, but was shocked when I looked at the dashboard only to find out that it was 8:25PM, my kid's bedtime, the sun still blazing!
And Epiphany visited me. (She always visits in the strangest places).
Here's the truth about light. Light is always shining.
- In Midtown at 5PM I need to look up see it, but it's there.
However, if I was able to get in a rocketship and fly into space, I'd find that the sun never sets. It is always there giving light to our solar system.
Fly out even further- light years, even. Amidst the blackness of space light is everywhere, but you have to "go up" (or for my astronomy-friends, "out") to see it.
The universe is literally filled with light. Never does darkness prevail, but we have to look for the light to see it.
A SPIRITUAL COMPONENT
As a pastor, I believe that what we see in the material world is a kind of "loose metaphor" of the invisible world. These "heavenly" lights are gifts, trying to teach us something about life, faith, and our place in the cosmos.
King David said this in the Psalms,
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
- Psalm 19 -
Then there's darkness. Darkness reaches us on all levels.
- Yes, the everyday darkness of nighttime.
Could these be "loving challenges" to look up higher, travel further, and search deeper?
I think so.
Light is all around us- always. We are being drenched in light materially, emotionally, and even spiritually every moment of every day. But we have to be willing to acknowledge this as a reality.
- When the sun sets, it really doesn't. You're just living on a rotating sphere that's tilted on an axis that makes it seem as if the "great light" goes out at night.
The Apostle Paul said it this way,
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light."
- Ephesians -
We are not in darkness. We are in the light, always.
So embrace that. Believe that. BE that.