Here’s what I know about light.
A hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second into the life of our bouncing baby universe, all our potential was wrapped up in a package about the size of a golf ball. One second later we were a lot bigger. Even so, it was dark in there. Too hot for light to exist. The light wouldn’t show up for another 380,000 years or so.
Approximately 13.7 billion years later I bought a nice Canon AE1 camera for my college photography classes. Back in those days we exposed little silver particles on a flexible strip and took it to the lab to be processed. I looked through that rectangular viewfinder and my life changed. The world revealed itself as a compositional playground. Shapes and lines and shadows and, of course, light.
Some time in between those two events, somewhat closer to the latter, someone wrote the book that would come to be known as the Gospel of John. In that act circulating that book, Jesus got considerably more cosmic in the public eye and became known as, among other things, The Light of the World.
The fact that it is unlikely Jesus referred to himself in that way notwithstanding, the light thing stuck. For a human who lived his life in such a life-giving way, I suppose the metaphor is apt.
Jesus didn’t have a monopoly on this light thing, either.
In the divinity of the universe, an amazing light-filled construct we barely understand, we are all made of and sustained by light. Matthew Fox reminds us that we are shot through with photons. The more we discover about physics, the more realize that ancient metaphors can take on new meanings embracing science, theology, philosophy and art. The mystery of what light is expands in every direction, like the universe. The more we know about it, the more it baffles us. The more it intrigues us.
If there is a God that exists in any way we can grasp, it seems to me that God is imprinted in the structure of things. Or maybe is the structure of things. The atoms and the elements and the consciousness and the light. Maybe 380,000 years into things that brilliant flash of light was somehow conscious of itself and maybe that was God. I really don’t know. I do know that 13.7 billion years later we are creatures of that original light that has caromed towards us through time and space in paths of almost infinite complexity.
That’s what I know about light. Not much.