The excellent Book of Creation by J Philip Newell ends each chapter with a meditation. After the chapter on the Celtic Christian understanding of light, he guides the reader in a sort-of breath prayer on psalm 43: “Send out your light; let it bring me to your dwelling.”
There are two things I would like to share with you about this lovely experience.
This moment of connection with people in a world before electricity. I think this connection was born out of a couple experiences in camping, where I was unprepared. There is a special kind of miserable that comes out of having not enough light or not enough heat.
If you have never struggled at creating these you don’t know how much they change everything. As I meditated, I had this sense of being a weary traveler on a dark road, worried about thieves, worried about getting lost, worried about the creatures lurking in the darkness.
What would it be like, I wondered, to round a bend and see windows lit with a lantern, beacons telling you that you are going to make it? As I thought about those words, I felt like an eager traveler, a pilgrim even, approaching his destination.
This sense of homecoming was made sweeter by the second thing.
“Know that in prayer we are opening ourselves to the One who dwells at the heart of life. The light that we are seeking issues up from within… Allow yourself to experience being led to the heart of light within you.” He wrote.
This was not a journey upward and outward. Like all great quests, it was downward and inward. Intellectually, I get that, now. But I was surprised at how freeing and novel it felt.
I am worthy of being a staging ground of the divine. In my somewhat recent past, I would have been open to the idea that God might take up residence within… But there was always this sense that God was slumming a little bit.
Like that song/ cliche, about ‘Jesus take the wheel’… Generally speaking, He is cruising around in a brand new Rolls Royce. He might be willing to teleport into my crappy little Honda, for a few minutes. He is such a nice guy he won’t even talk about all the fast food wrappers on the floor or the fact that I can’t afford to fix the air conditioner. But somewhere inside, I would have felt a little embarrassed that He would show up here.
Intellectually, I always knew we were made in God’s image. But a lot more air time goes to the fall. Living out the idea that there could be this permanent beacon within me… That’s pretty cool.