light and dark
rock, wind, crashing water
I stand, I cannot see where
I hear my breath, my heartbeat
am I alive, am I dead, do I exist
reach out, please, someone find me in the dark
light, blinding, all surrounding
I stand on a plain, green and gold
a hill rises before me
a light bursts up
I’m coming, I’ve been found
(C) Ruth Jewell, April 3, 2010
Have you ever been in absolute darkness? You know the kind where you can’t see your hand in front of your face, well I have. Many years ago I visited a cave system in Ohio and the guide turned off the lights to let us feel the darkness. Nothing, I couldn’t see my parents, or my sisters or anyone on the tour. I could hear them breathing and I could hear the water flowing below us but that was all. The only other sensation was touch; I remember reaching out to find my father and touched the wall, cool, clammy stone. For a moment in time I was suspended, this was darker than my mother’s womb; this was as dark as the beginning of all time. I heard my father’s voice just inches from as he recited “Then God Said, “let there be light,” and there was light and God saw it was good.” The lights came back on blinding us in its brilliance and it took a couple of minutes for us to separate the light from the dark, and it was good.
Today’s scripture reminded me of that childhood experience, an experience terrifying and, strangely enough, enlightening. Until that moment I don’t think I understood the significance of how important light is to us creatures. Unless you enter a cave or lose all of your sight we are never in total darkness, and to experience that is to draw something primal from us. Feelings of fear, uncertainty, lack of equilibrium, hopelessness, all of the feelings of being small and insignificant in a world we don’t understand. It is the light that draws us, like moths to a flame, into life. Light and dark, day and night are not just ways of describing the physical they are also metaphors in how we see our world psychologically and spiritually.
Genesis 1:1 could just as easily mean the abyss of our souls, the formless wasteland of our lives with the mighty winds of chaos sweeping over us. That scary place is all too common for many people in today’s world. In scripture God speaks a Word and Light and Life come into being. It is the hope of the rest of the reading that gives me strength, to continue on this very strange journey I’m on. It is remembering dawn follows night and night is not totally dark that gives me the strength to grow into what God intends me to be. The return of light in the morning renews my faith in the promise of life. With the words “let there be light” God promised life not death. When the lights came back on in that cave my family was still standing beside me, I wasn’t alone then and I’m not alone now.