This morning I was reading again in John O'Donohue's wonderful book, To Bless the Space Between Us, and came upon this amazing passage:
"We live in this world as if it had always been our reality and will continue to be. When we think about it, we recognize that invisible light does accompany a new infant into the world... Yet in our day-to-day lives, we continually fail to recognize the invisible light that renders the whole visible world luminous. This light casts no shadow; or perhaps we could invert the usual priority we give to the visible and say that the actual fabric and substance of the visible world is in fact the shadow that this invisible light casts."
I can't decide which part of that I like more -- that the divine light casts no shadow, or that the world as we know it is just the shadows cast by the invisible luminous. For the sake of this post, I decided to go with the second half, mostly because it reminded me of CS Lewis's wonderful book, The Great Divorce: A Fantastic Bus Ride from Hell to Heaven. That book made a HUGE impression on me, but today I am specifically reminded of what happens when they step out of the bus onto the grassy fields of heaven, and and are so unnerved to discover that the grass is so much more substantial than they are. Though they are told that time in heaven will render them more and more substantive, they cannot seem to make that mental shift, and one by one return to the familiarity and isolation that is hell.
We grow so accustomed to the reality we see and touch that we forget how much deeper, richer, stronger the underlying source must be. In some ways (though I really wanted the grassiness of the willow photo above) this old favorite photo of mine is a better illustration of this idea: it is as if we are just the reflection in the water: there is some color, a sense of sky, and cloud, of shadows cast, but it's just two-dimensional compared with the depth of true reality.
Which may be taking me back to the first part of the O'Donohue quote, that the true light (or is that the light of truth?) casts no shadows. Perhaps the only reason we see shadows and darkness at all is because we are so caught up in this earthly world in which we float for the moment; perhaps this is how it is that God can hold together those opposites I mentioned yesterday -- peace and righteousness, mercy and truth. Somehow, in a way I cannot begin to comprehend, the old hymn comes true:
In him there is no darkness at all:
the night and the day are both alike...
And no, for those of you who can hear that playing in your head, I am not going to post the rest of that verse: the last two lines are just too hokey for me. Makes me think of that bumper sticker: what if the hokey pokey is all there is?
Hey, what if it isn't!
NOTE: All John O'Donohue quotations are from his wonderful book of blessings, To Bless the Space Between Us (© John O’Donohue. All rights reserved). To learn more about John O'Donohue, be sure to visit his website: www.johnodonohue.com