Friday, November 30, 2007
AND I AM BLACK, BUT O MY SOUL IS WHITE
And I am black, but my soul is white - (William Blake)
'I am the light of the world,' he said. 'Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.'
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
God is light and there is no darkness at all in him. If then, we say that we have fellowship with him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions.
Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and so there is nothing in him that will cause someone else to sin.
You are the world's light -- a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
God was always with me then and gave me light as I walked through the darkness.
Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.
When Moses went down from Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, his face was shining because he had been speaking with the Lord.
We Christians... can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord and as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.
(John 8:12, GNB; John 1:5, GNB; 1 John 1:5-6, GNB; 1 John 1:10, GNB; Matthew 5:14, LB; Matthew 5:16, RSV; Job 29:3, GNB; Romans 13:12, RSV; Exodus 34:29, GNB; 2 Corinthians 3:18, LB)
As one of today's 'civilised' people, I hardly know what it is like to be in the dark. Electricity effortlessly sets my house ablaze with light as bright as the noonday sun, and I take it all so much for granted. Darkness is really a stranger to me, but certainly more friend than foe. I have to imagine the sense of relief a needed light must have brought in the blackness of a moonless night. But even as physical darkness may have retreated to the edge of civilised man's existence, emotional and spiritual darkness has not. They are greater realities than ever in our world.
My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white.
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereav'd of light.
William Blake, 'The Little Black Boy', Songs of Innocence
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore; -
Turn whatsoe'r I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
William Wordsworth, 'Ode: Intimations of Immortality'
My heart cries out in weariness.
Just to lie here, lie here, Lord,
For a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime.
I yearn for rest,
Rest in the blackness,
Not to have to move, think, plan, communicate;
My life is so busy,
My life is a treadmill,
Oh, to have nothing to do!
Lying in the blackness,
Lying exhausted in the darkness,
My soul turns Godwards,
My soul turns towards the light.
'I came into men's lives, little one,
To heal, restore, to make you whole.
I am the light, shining in the darkness,
Burning in the darkness to guide your way.
The path is not a treadmill,
A ceaseless, inescapable treadmill
But an exciting, wondrous, upward path,
Where shadows and pitfalls are illumined by me.
'If you travel with me,
I make all plain.
Little by little,
I show you the way;
Travelling in the blackness,
You rushed into sorrows,
You pushed into emptiness,
Your feet are all sore from blindly stumbling,
Your heart is weary with meaningless rush.
'Travelling with me,
Is a joyous experience.
If your life is not joyful,
You're not travelling by me.
Come, travel a mile with me,
Travel the while with me,
Walk with me, talk with me.
In all, we will share.'
Where is my weariness?
Was life once meaningless?
Father, how beautiful is life, all through!
You soften the ugliness,
Illumine the loveliness,
Living is ecstasy,
Travelling with you!
Bronwyn Pryor, 'Illumination'
What is perhaps the most incredible common element in the accounts [of human survival of biological death] I have studied, and is certainly the element which has the most profound effect upon the individual, is the encounter with a very bright light... not one person has expressed any doubt whatsoever that it was a being, a being of light. Not only that, it is a personal being. It has a very definite personality. The love and the warmth which emanate from this being to the dying person are utterly beyond words, and he feels completely surrounded by it and taken up in it, completely at ease and accepted in the presence of this being. He senses an irresistible magnetic attraction to this light.
Raymond A. Moody, Life after Life
The oldest of all stories about creation tells us that God created light before he created the sun and the earth... It is not impossible at all. For nowadays we know that light is a form of energy and all created things are made of energy... we are therefore made not of solid and impenetrable matter, but of energy... This being so, it is not strange at all that when we establish a closer connection with God in prayer we... receive more abundant life -- an increased flow of energy. We are the electric light bulbs through whom the light of God reaches the world... Knowing then that we are part of God, that his life within us is an active energy... we can speed up the natural healing forces of the body... While love is the wiring that connects our souls with his, faith is the switch that turns on the power... Therefore we need not hesitate to give thanks for each adjustment, however great or small, that we would like his loving care to make in us... 'I rejoice that this moment thy healing light is removing all pain from the spine and filling the back with new vigour and life.' What if we practice this system and fail? Shall we doubt God? Edison did not doubt electricity when his experiments with the light bulb failed. Instead of that, he doubted the wires that he had used... For more than 6,000 times he tried again... If we are sensible, we will not doubt God, we will doubt our world and we will doubt ourselves.
Agnes Sanford, The Healing Light
At the moment when the blackness seemed darker than ever, I cried out, 'Lord, I don't care what happens or how miserable I am, I thank you for this entire experience. I know you are going to bring something good out of it.' Instantly, the darkness of the hospital room was shattered by a brilliant white light, brighter than the sun. It was as bright as the light I'd seen in a vision several years before... As I lay on my bed in the hospital room, my entire body flooded by that wonderful, brilliant light, I suddenly realised that what had once been a vision, now was a reality. The years I had walked by faith, believing that God was using my pain for good, were years climbing [the ladder of praise] through the cloud of darkness and uncertainty. Without the cloud, I would never have learned to let go of my reliance on my senses and feelings. Now I could wholeheartedly thank God for every circumstance of my life that added to the dark cloud. How else could I have learned to utterly trust in him? How else could I have come to experience this beautiful saturation of light and joy [above the cloud layer]?... There is nothing haphazard about God's plan for our lives. Nothing, absolutely nothing, however strange, inconsistent, or evil it may seem to us, happens without God's specific consent.
Merlin Carothers, Power in Praise
So long as we stay in the light we're safe because Satan cannot endure light and will not come near it. A true incident has become an unforgettable symbol of this for me... On both sides the attraction was intensifying... Mary didn't ask her caller to sit down. She remained standing in the centre of the room bathed in a cone of light from the electrical fixture overhead. As she concentrated on Jesus as represented by that light, she felt herself becoming less aware of John and more aware of the enveloping light of God all around her... Mary did not follow John into the darkness of the adjoining bedroom... As long as she stood in the light, the values she really cared about -- her marriage, the home she and Bill had made together, their children -- would be safe... At last, reluctantly, he left... Mary had found for herself the reality of the 'armour of light'.
Catherine Marshall, Something More
Lord, light of my life, I praise you and thank you for coming into my being and scattering the darkness of disbelief, doubt and despair.
Your light within has brought such joy, such beauty and such life.
When I look at others, help me to see beneath their skin, however 'black' it may appear, to the white purity of their inner soul. And, finding your light there, lay aside all my negative judgments and criticisms over their outward appearance, stance or situation, however different from mine.
Fan your flame within me by the breath of your Holy Spirit, so that it glows ever brighter like a lamp whose wick is turned up. For I would be filled with your light.
I give you permission to turn your searchlight onto all the dark corners within me that I prefer to keep hidden, a secret to myself alone -- past guilts; present self-indulgences; the stunted future expectations I hold for my life. I give you permission to melt my will and make it yours, so that together, we can bring those ghosts out into the light of your love to be transformed.
You want this far more than I, Lord, so I trust you, that you are doing it, even as I sit here with my eyes upon you. I won't trust my feelings, but rather I trust your promises.
I know, Lord, that all the dark days of my life have been part of your perfect plan, to bring me to where I am today. Without them, I would probably be far from desiring your light. So I praise you for them. Bless this day through which I am about to walk. I trust you for guidance and inspiration for today's tasks, for the protection of your armour of light, and pray that you will use me this day to shed your radiance on all I meet.
The blessing of Gods light be upon you as you go, unclouded, into this day. As the light of the sun never ceases to shine for you, neither does the love of God. Relax and enjoy being a reflector, knowing you are being used even as you merely keep turned towards the light. Amen.
Rowland Croucher ed., Still Waters Deep Waters, chapter 29