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The Poetry of Light



I know I've mentioned to you before that sense of is it now, or is it then? When the light around dusk plays tricks on the mind and can create an otherworldly, ethereal atmosphere where time and place seem to almost blur. Has anyone else felt such a moment? Had an experience in that half-light that has left you, not quite spooked, but thought-provoked? Perhaps with goosebumps and the hairs on your arms and back of your neck, prickling?


I love light, how it changes, how it can make us feel and how it can change perspectives. One thing I have always enjoyed, moving a lot as we have in the Church, is that first morning in a new house (or indeed when staying with family or even on holiday) seeing how the light plays and moves in a space - how it changes the look and feel of a room as it brightens, intensifies, and chases the shadows away. Light in a South-facing room is so very different, so much warmer and more lively than in North-facing rooms where I sense a calmer, perhaps more sedate and restrained mood.


What do you think about the flickering light from a fire or a candle? It's certainly warm in colour, but often subject to movement from draughts etc and it appears to dance, reflecting in the room on walls. Sometimes the light is static, but still warm, creating a warm glow and how does that make you feel? Does candlelight with its static flame or dancing shadows energise or relax you? Do the shadows disturb you or does it take you back to your childhood, making you feel secure and safe? Does candlelight in the Church or in the Summer have the same feel or is it changed for you? Is it romantic or just romanticised? Is it spiritual or spooky?


And what about artificial light when we flick a switch in a darkening room, does that light feel cold and harsh? Remember when LED bulbs were out first and light had that hard edge to them? It is so much nicer now as we can select what sort of lighting we want in a room. The old harsh LED lights were guaranteed to give me a nasty headache in a matter of minutes and I prefer a softer light, but then flickering sunlight through trees can do that as well. The light we use reflects our moods, our natural inclinations and desires: have you tried cooking by candlelight recently? It may be soft and warm, but isn't practical and what about it for reading or crossword puzzles? Light in or on different things makes us change how we feel almost instantly.


Light is necessary always, it enables us to see and be safe. We often use it to reassure ourselves too, think of children who are often left with the landing light on or a nursery light in their room. Was that strictly for the benefit of the child or to initially satisfy ourselves? Both our children brought up in the same way in the same household, one loved light at night and the other had to have it as black as possible from early days? I would leave a light somewhere because it would reassure - but really, who is it reassuring?


Jesus is the light of the world and we think of a candle representing this, but would a main light do the same thing, or a street light? Today think about faith and how we react to it with light? The sedate warm feeling of evensong can easily be destroyed with the red wall heaters so often used at one time. Across from the Rectory here, the new development uses red lighting to supposedly warn away bats from the church and building. I don't know if it works, but it is certainly annoying and personally I would hate to live with it directly outside my home. Light is mood inducing and it is part of hygge, through candles and fires and natural light of sunrise, sunsets and the moon' reflective light. How do we use it and why? What do we do with light and does it lead us deeper into faith or do the shadows shut doors for us? How do we react, to draw nearer to God in Christ or to feel distanced?



The Light By The Barn - William Stafford

The light by the barn that shines all night pales at dawn when a little breeze comes. A little breeze comes breathing the fields from their sleep and waking the slow windmill. The slow windmill sings the long day about anguish and loss to the chickens at work. The little breeze follows the slow windmill and the chickens at work till the sun goes down-- Then the light by the barn again.

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