I just came from a lecture given by a brilliant particle physicist I know. This was an introduction intended to help non-physicists understand what he does. I needed an introduction to the introduction.
But it did get me thinking. One of those thoughts was about light. As a photographer, and as a priest, light is an essential subject. It is by light that my art form takes not only its name, but its very being. Similarly, it is by The Light, Jesus, that we are given our being as well. We often think about light as one part of a duality - light and dark. This duality is essential in photography, as we are as interested in the shadow, and the gradation as we are in the highlight and light source. This is true, at least in part, because without the shadow there is no depth, no dimensionality, no contrast, and ultimately, no interest.
However, in the light of faith, this duality does not really exist, or, if it does, then it is not considered a positive, nor is it a thing to be pursued. Or, well, maybe that isn't entirely right either. It seems to me that from the perspective of the Jesus follower, there are two kinds of darkness, the one points to the light, and the other attempts to obliterate it. On the one hand you have the dark night of the soul type of darkness. The gethsemane experience, or the time wandering in the spiritual wilderness. This kind of darkness is like that pursued by photographers, as it is a product of the light, it is a shadow which implies the light's direction and intensity. When we undergo these dark times within ourselves, it is with the understanding that we will come out of it, and see the light which has always been there, but we had somehow failed to see it for a time. This is a good type of darkness, for it always points us to God, and it creates dimension and shape and contrast in our lives.
However, there is, of course that other type of darkness which seeks not so much to point to the light, but to destroy it. This is evil. The things we do to others, the things others do to us which dimminish, demean, and destroy. This kind of darkness has no place in a world created by The Light, and yet it is. Some will say that we cannot know the light unless there is is kind of darkness to throw it into relief. But this is wrong. This shadow is a perversion of the light, a twisted specter of the very thing it would seek to destroy, and should it cease to exist, as one day it must, then the truth of the light will in no way be diminished. It will simply be light with out darkness, and so shine the brighter for it.