“Light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else.”—Richard Rohr
“Jesus spoke to the people again saying I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”—John 8:12
I’m a bit finicky about light. In the mornings, I opened the curtains and blinds to allow for natural light. Once it starts to get dark, I turn on lamps and other ambient lighting. Only begrudgingly do I ever use overhead lights and then for only as long as I have to. The glare from them has hurt my eyes since my days as a graphic designer. Then again, maybe because I was a graphic designer, I learned to work without them to cut down on the glare. Chicken or egg, anyone? As quirky as I am about it, I like everyone else, need light to see. Though I prefer more limited amounts, I still need it or I can’t see. No cat’s eyes in my head.
It’s interesting to me to think about my odd habits with light in regard to the two statements above. Richard Rohr makes the argument for light as the thing which creates the conditions and environment for sight. He seems to be saying light is the thing that allows sight to happen, which scientifically, is true. Jesus comments are far more in line with another function of light, a different sort of light. In the ancient world, light was—and still is—a metaphor for personal illumination. It was not so much the light outside but the light inside the person that Jesus refers to here. This illumination allows us to see spiritually and gives us the ability—like plants—to grow.
Thinking of my earlier commentary on how I use light, it makes me wonder about how we prefer our spiritual light. As light in our souls allows us to be transformed and grow spiritually, how much are we letting in everyday? Are we allowing the Light of the World, The Way of Jesus, to illuminate our thinking and our understanding? Has it shaped and changed what we see and how we see when we look at the needs of those around us and the needs within us? Or have we chosen to sit in the dark?