Good evening, all. A post about light. For some reason I had trouble writing this entry. I found myself overwhelmed with the many ways one can approach light. But these words from John's gospel were the constant refrain as I pondered this week's theme. I figured that meant I should work with them.
Thoughts welcome and appreciated!
I am not light, pure light that envelopes darkness. At times I am radiant; I can shine with joy and excitement, but this certainly isn’t an everyday occurrence. Instead I experience light. I stand in awe of the winter sun—crisp, bright, and hopeful—in Minnesota. I obey my mother, a photographer, when she tells me to pose in any given way because of how the light falls. I extend daylight with the miracle of electricity. I exist in light, but I am not light.
These winter days I am drawn to the words of Jesus: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). John’s Jesus deals in hyperbole. This Jesus says he is the way, the truth, the life; the good shepherd; the bread of life; the resurrection and the life. He: the Messiah.
But it isn’t really hyperbole when we’re talking about the Son of God, is it? No; exaggeration would be so much easier. Like Grandpa George who always talks about walking eight miles to school uphill both ways in snow up to his eyeballs. Or Aunt Helen who tells stories about summer days so hot they fried eggs on the sidewalk. Exaggeration would mean I could dismiss this light; I could turn it off.
But the light that Jesus provides is different. It can’t be turned off. It is constant, consuming, captivating. Existing in this light is to become one with it. And that takes courage.
In his gospel, John makes a distinction between those who don’t walk in light and those who do. Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Jesus converses with the Samaritan woman at noon. The former is a secret disciple; his faith is lacking. He is afraid of what those around him will think if he, a Pharisee, is seen learning from this troublemaker Jesus. The woman at the well, however, acts as a model disciple; she is the first person to whom Jesus confesses his messiahship. He engages her in theological conversation, and she experiences a conversion of heart, a conversion that she proceeds to share with the people of her village.
And I, where do I fall? In these days preceding Lent, I ponder that question. I am craving light—that of the sun and the Son. I am not Nicodemus, hiding in the night. Nor am I the woman at the well, ready to lead others to conversion. Rather, I come to Jesus at dawn. I stand between darkness and light—hesitant to leave the cover of night where I am anonymous yet hopeful that the light will soon envelope me, turning me into light as well.