“I saw the light!”
If I told you that, you would probably assume I had disabused myself of a previous misconception or even that I had attained some state of ecstatic knowing. We equate the light, at least semantically, not just with an effervescent ease but with understanding. You might even say we equate the phenomenon of seeing clearly, with the Divine. In darkness we stumble and cannot find our way. Illumination not only shows us the path but dispels the ghosts.
400,000 after the Big Bang, the wonderfully named Cosmic Microwave Background was formed. Prior to this, the Universe was so hot and dense that it was opaque to all radiation. But eventually it cooled and expanded enough for simple atoms to form and it thus became transparent. Light, which is in fact one of several forms of electro-magnetic energy, could be seen!
In Genesis, God separates heaven from earth. But earth is dark and formless until God creates light. For the Greeks, the world began with an empty darkness out of which was formed Uranus, the sky and Gaia, the earth.
The sky was for them as it is for us, the province of light. Certainly we look upward for light even though, as did Daedulus, we have learned to create it ourselves. Unlike Icarus, Daedulus' son, whose wax wings melted when he flew too close to what he sought, we have succeeded in dispelling physical darkness at the flick of a switch. But have we had as much success grappling with emotional and psychological, not to mention spiritual darkness.
And are we entirely sure we want to?
Just as shadows, those marvels of substanceless imitation, are only visible in the light, are created by a blockage to the light, our internal darkness is maybe a similar blockage to a light that is always there. Just as the clouds obscure but also catch the light and make of it an endlessly interesting and sometimes breathtaking display, through our grappling with the darkness, we summon the light. We again, see the Light.
Come reflect on these thoughts and others at A Certain Kind of Light on the 18th of February.