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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ex Tenebris in Lucem

There is something lovely about the natural interruption of darkness.

There is gentleness about it that doesn't come from Edison's inventions, a subtleness that soothes rather than disrupts, that softly leads the eyes to focus on shadows as they develop into shapes, things becoming visible when once they were invisible.

Light, that which enables us to see, that which dispels the terrors of childhood, that which allows us to go forward into the unknown with more confidence, our steps secure on the path we can see. It removes the need to feel the way before us with our fingers and toes, timidly, nervously, expecting the abyss or the stumbling block that always exists before us when in the dark, if only in our imagination.

Light, that which flickers beautifully in fire, warming our hearths and homes, adding a romantic glow even in the modern age that no longer sees the flames as necessary, but cannot quite abandon that which once separated us from animals, that which alerted nature to our superior intellect and mastery, our ability to create heat and illuminate our world setting us apart in this creation, the burning of oil and tallow allowing us to hold darkness in contempt, to do away with the fears of the night, to increase in learning, in art, to refine our pleasures and prolong our waking hours.

I remember when I first discovered liturgy, how thrilling it was to watch the darkness vanish at my first Christmas midnight service, the pastor of the Anglican Church having the theatrical taste to darken the church during the lessons and carols, entering as we left the dregs of Advent behind, led by candles into a church as he processed with the Christ Child born aloft, the light arriving with Our Infant Lord in a sensory overload, our being compelled to awe by the ritualistic beauty of both language, music, sign, and illumination.

So I became enamored of liturgy, the use of ritual, the comforting familiar sounds and phrases, the candles positioned and weighted, precise in their heights and even in the steadiness of their flames. Then there came the morning sun, illumining the various scenes in the stained glass windows, calling to mind those who were now in the Light, and who began, as we all do, in absolute darkness.

Those were my years of seeing "through a glass darkly".  There was the Light, distant and beautiful, the shadows around me becoming clearer each day, my beliefs, well established from my youth, becoming understood, growing to a fullness of Faith that took me far beyond the simplicity of Mere Christianity into the blazing Light which is Christ Crucified, Christ Resurrected, and Christ again on the altar, exalted and elevated in the Eucharistic Host.

It is a gradual thing, a generous thing, a gift both real and surreal, a promise extended each day to us, providing an eternal hope of a perpetual light that is just beyond us, there on the outskirts of our understanding, but not yet for our sight.

Language has no equal to God before us, He is is seen and unseen, He is welcomed and spurned, consumed and all consuming, exalted at our altars and abased in our world.  It is His Light that awes us, His is the Beauty our souls seek in the darkness that hides it among base pleasures.  

Lumen Christi.  

Reason would have it thus, that there is One Truth, that there is One God.   The Light of the World, the reason we face the East in expectation, the Presence we acknowledge with the subtle glow of a candle, constantly renewed before His altar.

Lumen de Lumine.   

The Light that shines in the Darkness, driving away all doubts and despair, giving us the hope of the life everlasting in the world to come.

Deo Gratias.  Amen. 

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