Thursday, March 28, 2013

Theological Meanderings: Light

by guest blogger, Kyle Lincoln

Light, being both a giver of life and alive itself, watches us just as much as it gives us the ability to watch our own surroundings. We all rely on the sun for the casting of its light, and yet while we often notice the world around us we rarely focus directly on the light until it’s absent. I often stare at light and shadows, looking at shapes and forms, mesmerized not just by how it draws out of the elements of the subject but by the phenomenon of light alone. It must be comical to catch me in this trance, staring at any trivial object like it’s a new discovery and full of wonder, eyes wide and in deep concentration. Sometimes it's nothing more than a wall with shadows from tree branches imprinted into it, and the shadows slowly move with the passing sun reminding me we also exist in the context of time. As it illuminates an object I feel a sense of knowing it more fully, and thickness and form are drawn out by the shadows. Something about actively watching light makes my entire being feel comparably small while massively infinite, there’s an odd magic that draws me in. When light washes over skin the warmth is physically felt rinsing our surface  as if a substance. Unlike wind, which allows us to feel small invincible gas substance, light is genuinely nothing but the spilling warmth of the sun.

Light is the source of all things. It was the first requirement before existence, and ultimately everything on our earth originated and continues to be supported by the sun. The creation of our planet is a result of cooling dust and residue left over from the blast of our sun’s ignition. Ultimately all matter on our planet was once in our sun. As life has now come to exist, anything that lives relies on the sun’s nurturing warmth. For plants to grow and nourish us with food, or to feed livestock or any other animal, the plants rely on sunlight for the phenomenal process of  photosynthesis. The ingenious process of  the splitting of water with nothing other than light, using the energy to create a sugar for the plant from hydrogen, and as a byproduct the plant disposes the unneeded oxygen giving us our breath. We then harness the same energy as we eat. The light is the source of energy and breathable air, and so we are warmed, fed and breath all because of light.  It’s from the idea of light that I form some sense of my theology.

While this could be an easy analogy, drawing from old comparisons of God to light, to me it makes more sense to view light as some presence of God within our material perspective. That’s not to say we should worship light, but that light might as well be a physical attribute of God that can be experienced. The term God, in my instances, is extremely loose. It must be loose given the fact as a finite person I’m encountering and measuring the infinite. God may be theological, and is often conversed using such philosophy, but as light we can fill these understandings and view it as means to show love towards others by living within the characteristics of light. Noticing the main attributes of light as I stare it, the feeling of warmth, the granter of sight, and source of life, provides a strong sense of what it means to live as light. We exist as light, and should live as the light. The light becomes us through its chain, we are its image, and we must reflect this to others until the world illuminates and we see the magnificence of our spiritual and physical source: the sun.

As light refracts and reflects as a rainbow through water particles into various colors, so each person shines their own spiritual light derived from a single source of some such sun, however our color may reflect that. Even those who are not a theist, some source of light exists in most worldviews that can signify some form of God, whatever it may look like, that comes from their personal sun. Harmony is when people to embrace the color of their faith and acknowledge its single source. God, being both the sun and a spiritual entity like it, breaks into multiple hues. Though we can’t look directly into the sun without the risk of losing our sight we always feel its effects. Let us live in the world as a light, giving energy, breath and warmth to all we meet.

Kyle Lincoln is, in a word, unusual. Though nationally and legally an American, he lived overseas most of his life beginning with his birth in Kinshasa, DRC, formerly Zaire. He later moved to Uganda in 1994, where he spent the majority of his life and attended an international school. His parents are missionaries who raised him under a Christian faith, giving him a deep belief in God and a fascination for culture, faith and theology of all sorts. After graduating high school, he moved to Grand Rapids, MI, where he majored in Theater with a psychology minor at Calvin College. Much of his influence comes from a branch of theater popularized by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel, and Eugène Ionesco, among others, known as “Theater of the absurd.” It’s based around an anti-philosophy of sorts, which insinuates that while ideologies are of great worth and study, none should be looked as having full knowledge of absolutes and that our understanding is limited to our real life existence which is ultimately full of the unexplainable. Kyle continues to value truth, along with principles that demonstrate worth of humanity and anything living, and often seeks to find what in our world can be fully known from our finite position. He is an observer who regularly fluctuates in and out existential crises, but is often involved in numerous activities such as juggling, writing, drawing, gardening, questioning, and some of his favorite things are nature, music, cities, arts, and food. He currently works as a volunteer coordinator for Together, a homeless prevention agency in Omaha, NE, as part of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

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