John Ciardi, a “one-generation-back” lecturer and poet, wrote somewhere, “Follow language as it goes and it will always arrive at its own bazaar.” I kept his sentence. For I use language to both in-see and to interpret myself to my neighbor. Managing language rightly is for me an act of faith. Fashioning language I am, according to poet Carl Sandburg, “wording” with the breath of God. Using language I knock on God’s door…entreating God to go with me in life. Biblically, I want to “walk in the light of the Lord.”

A genesis-size fête is my starting place! God’s “Big Bang” fills creation with light. Light is the first great unknown. Light teams with mass and gives us E=mc2 ushering in the Atomic Age. The Astrophysicist measures distances to the stars in Light Years: Each light year about 5.88 trillion miles. And I like the ancient Psalmist in considering this same night sky, pondering my place in the scheme of things, feel myself addressed by star-distant deeps calling to my interior deeps with an insistence I cannot put aside. How is it that starlight can elicit enigmatic excitements from my mind – this mass of neurons, and circuits suspended in fats and water? “Light, light, more light!” they tell us that the dying Goethe cried. Light in the Bible equals God’s mysterious biding … especially, Christianly understood, in the inscrutable person of Jesus.

This bazaar engenders astonishment and surprise! Portia in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” speaking of light said, “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” Scriptures speak of God who is light upon our way – this unfaltering beam falling upon our life’s path, oddly radiating from Jesus’ life and words. His life is our signage in a darkened and “naughty world.” Admittedly, we are not strangers to the dark, as we carry within figments of the dark that have robbed many of psychological composure and peace causing an impoverishment of soul. Perhaps this dark is shaped by an interior emptiness and bad dreams, worse still, by recriminations for loving deeds not done. Not only is there inner dark; also we are becoming aware of the enormous effort and fatigue behind humanity’s vision and control of civilization. So thin is the membrane separating this world’s dark and the light that would bring us into a safer tomorrow, that it is with anxious spirits we long to move from this darkness into God’s marvelous light.

Orienting our minds biblically, we receive with joy the good news that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). Walking in the light of the Lord is to confess God’s claim upon our lives. In this light we become alert to the perils upon our way – most significantly, the fray beyond our reach constituted by that over which we have little or no control; and closer to personal experience … particularly, “the trivializing of our values, attitudes and actions.” Still, we can rejoice, as walking “in the light of the Lord” is the road to paradise. Author and anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, once described our bodies as magical vessels, linked to an element it cannot produce. Only the green plant, he said, knows the secret of transforming the light coming to it across the far reaches of space. But is this so? There is no metaphor so right in illustrating the wonder and intricacy of our relationship to God as God being the transforming light invading our minds and spirits.

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is minister of visitation emeritus at First Parish Church, Saco. He may be contacted at [email protected].