Light is Alive
One of the comforts of owning books you love, and being someone who dog ears aforementioned books, is that you can walk to your shelf, pluck off something you've not read for a while, and go immediately to a satisfying passage.
Today's book is The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation by Fanny Howe. In it she quotes from And There was Light by Jacques Lusseyran, a French writer who went blind at the age of eight and later survived the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Remembering the light on his balcony, Lusseyran says:
“This light was not like the flow of water, but something more fleeting and numberless, for its source was everywhere. I liked seeing that the light came from nowhere in particular, but was an element just like air...Radiance multiplied, reflected itself from one window to the next, from a fragment of wall to cloud above. It entered into me, became part of me. I was eating sun.”
He also says:
“Inside me there was everything I had believed was outside. There was, in particular, the sun, light, and all colors. There were even the shapes of objects and the distance between objects. Everything was there and movement as well… Light is an element that we carry inside us and which can grow there with as much abundance, variety, and intensity as it can outside of us…I could light myself…that is, I could create a light inside of me so alive, so large, and so near that my eyes, my physical eyes, or what remained of them, vibrated, almost to the point of hurting… God is there under a form that has the good luck to be neither religious, not intellectual, nor sentimental, but quite simply alive.”
Fanny Howe says, “We are buried alive in the physical world. We are the physical world. We are formed by its forms. We have light inside and all follows from that.”
I'm not a religious person, but I believe in light. I believe that it is our responsibility to be alive, to be light, and to be who we are. If we cultivate the inner light, then, as Howe says, all will follow from that.
It's difficult to think about our inner light without recalling the Roethke poem:
Was It Light?
by Theodore Roethke
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
At times, it feels the inner light slips away from us. Our creative mode has stalled. We have become weary. This is when we need our friends to tell us to be still. Wait. It will come again. It will.
And we will always need to hear this at intervals.
But the radiance returns. Soon, we will be eating sun again.