Traveling Light – Part 2

Last time we left off with my wife and I attending the annual Feast of Lights at the University of Redlands. We’d just come back from intermission, taken our seats and then, the lights go out and we now sit in complete darkness.

All too soon we begin wondering what comes next for you can only sit in the dark so long without at least questions – if not something more disconcerting –  rising out of the dark corners of your own imagination. And then, a voice penetrates our unseeing.

The narrator reminds us of an ancient story that we need to be reminded of more often. “The world was in darkness. And into the darkness came a great light…” With these words, our guide through this darkness lights a single candle there at the podium. As he continues to read of the Light of the World, the story unfolds not just in words, but in radiance.

From that single candle, two people approach and light candles of their own. They pass their flames to others and then we realize that in the darkness, the entire choir has entered and has spread throughout the entire chapel. Candle to candle, like dominos of flame, the light passes until the entire cavernous chapel is illuminated with more brilliance than you ever thought possible from candlelight alone.

Soon, as the story winds down, we are all singing together, bathed in this light. It resembles the Great Hall scene at Hogwarts from the Harry Potter movies. Except here, the room reverberates with something more pure, more holy, filled with a transcendent mystery rather than a fictional magic. We have entered as individuals, but we are now one, wrapped in the sameness of light but more than that, sharing a communal song, spirit and hope.

And then, slowly, gradually and with a solemn joy, the choir exits and we are asked to do the same but in silence, departing as this portion of the evening’s experience began, in stillness.

As we exit the chapel, we step out into the cold night air and we collectively gasp, but not from the temperature. Before us, all streetlights and other distractions are now suppressed. Instead, we witness the surprise of hundreds of luminarias lit up and lining the pathways of the Quad, small markers of light that combine to create a wondrous glow.

We began in darkness and together in darkness we experienced a shared light. And now, once again on our own yet somehow still strangely connected, we go forth into the world, much different than when we arrived. We came alone in darkness. We leave, together, illuminated.

To be continued…

If you haven’t read Traveling Light – Part 1 you can do so here

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