Rev. Kate Pearson reflects on light as we welcome Spring.
I find myself writing on a gloomy Monday morning. The sun is yet to show its face from behind thick clouds and there is a chill in the air. Certainly nothing to write home about as far as English weather is concerned but I’m noticing it particularly today because today’s greyness stands in stark contrast to the glorious blue skies and warmth of the weekend’s weather.
Light and warmth can have a remarkable impact on our wellbeing. We all know that getting outside when we can is an essential ingredient in thriving through lockdown. Light is also a powerful metaphor in many world religions.
In my own tradition, the story of creation that Christians share with our Jewish neighbours begins with God speaking ‘let there be light’. And in the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus even refers to himself as ‘the light of the world’. Light is a wonderful metaphor for those able to engage with the image.
But what if light means something else to you? I was privileged to be taught by the late Professor John Hull, theologian and religious education expert. John became blind in 1983, at the age of 48. Unusually, his blindness affected him to the point where he had no perception of light. How does a man whose faith deals in so many metaphors of light manage to flourish in that faith; a faith shaped by the sighted? It was not an easy journey for him and as a result John taught his students to listen carefully to the stories of faith around us and particularly of those who have not been part of the small privileged cohort that tend to get leading roles in western history books. We must listen to understand, rather than reply, and avoid cliches in our response.
Our binary use of the metaphors of light and dark can be troubling and deeply disempowering and we must challenge simplistic tropes which continue to marginalise the experiences of so many.
For Professor John as he wrestled with Biblical texts that appear to have been written with only the sighted community in mind, a moment of revelation came as he read Psalm 139 again. For all of our obsession with the metaphor of light, we are told in this text that darkness and the light are the same to God, just as they were in my Professor’s life. In both are goodness and the potential for flourishing.
Going back to my grey day, of course, the sun has not gone, nor has it grown less powerful. Nothing can stop God being God. So let God be God and let you be you. That is enough for today.