Light, the visible reminder







boys in afternoon light



In these almost seven years of living in our home, I have learned to trace the light within it through seasons and hours. I plan my day around this light, now knowing which corners and spaces and times match certain activities like quiet reading or outdoor play or schoolwork or cooking or sleeping. We all intuitively do this on some level.  Yet, at times, as this light filters through the blinds and open windows and large glass doors casting shadow art across our faces and floors and walls and cups of coffee, I simply behold it. I enjoy it. (And sometimes I grab the camera.) My days are filled with everyday-ness — routines on repeat. Still somehow these routines seem more lovely with shimmers of sun. And maybe this is the point. As T.S. Elliot poeticizes, “Light Light the visible reminder of Invisible Light  . . . too bright for mortal vision.” Possibly, all of these pleasures — from the sunlit dishwater to the glowing lines of my children’s faces — really sum up in the metaphor: light, the visible reminder of Invisible Light. The reminder of presence.

(The final third  portion of T.S. Elliot’s Choruses from the Rock)

O Light Invisible, we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision.

O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning,
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,
The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight,
Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,
Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade.
O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!

We thank Thee for the light that we have kindled,
The light of altar and of sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at midnight
And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!

In our rhythm of earthly life we tire of light. We are glad when the day ends, when the play ends; and ecstasy is too much pain.
We are children quickly tired: children who are up in the night and fall asleep as the rocket is fired; and the day is long for work or play.
We tire of distraction or concentration, we sleep and are glad to sleep,
Controlled by the rhythm of blood and the day and the night and the seasons.
And we must extinguish the candle, put out the light and relight it;
Forever must quench, forever relight the flame.
Therefore we thank Thee for our little light, that is dappled with shadow.
We thank Thee who hast moved us to building, to finding, to forming at the ends of our fingers and beams of our eyes.
And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.
O Light Invisible, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory!

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  1. “And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light” — that phrase stood out to me above all the others. So true. And, on a totally untheological note, I too have memorized the lighting in my home. I’m so grateful for it! I always tell people who are moving to the pacific northwest, “Find a home with large windows. You cannot live here without the light”. I cannot live without the Light.

    1. Amen! I somehow missed this comment, Sarah, but I completely agree. This was one of my favorite lines as well. And I don’t think I could ever get my husband to move to the Northwest for all the reasons you mentioned. ;)

    1. Kaylan, thank you you so much for sharing your kind compliment! This space is certainly a work-in-progress, growing and evolving right along with me (and my family). Your words mean much. Thank you again!

  2. we get almost no light in our first floor apartment, trees outside block most of the sunny days. but in the morning, i’m often woken by the light through the bedroom blinds. there’s no better way to come to life.

    1. Yes! I love the summer for its early morning light — it seems now I always have to wake in the dark which seems unnatural. Your living in shadows seems a little mournful to me, friend — but temporary, I hope? Thanks for sharing and enjoy Southern CA this weekend! ;)

  3. your photos are so warm and comforting, bethany. good memories seeing the deep shadows in contrast with the bright light from afternnoons, for example, from chilhood til now. elliot paints such a clear picture of our frailty and gratefulness to our Invisible Light. thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Amy! And Yes! Our life is full of sharp contrasts and metaphors, so many detailed in this [not-so-brief] poem. I loved how the poem, just as light itself, has caused me to pause and reevaluate the way I view community and a person’s talents. It’s beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing such a thoughtful response.

  4. i am also one to chase light, wherever i am. it’s warming to find yourself in His presence or in a beating ray. love the imagery, love the ambience.

    thanks for sharing!


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