Light of the World
Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett
Earlier this week, Unity of San Antonio co-hosted a multi-faith gathering for the purpose of “Healing Our Hearts” following last month’s mass shooting in Orlando. By the time of our gathering, several more acts of violence had rattled and shaken us. Since then, eighty-four humans in Nice, France, were killed by one person’s rampage. It has been a dark time.
Throughout time and across cultures, darkness and light have predominated in poetry as well as religious scriptures. It is easy for us humans to equate darkness with evil, when we think about the effects of darkness in human experience. Without proper shelter, the dark of night becomes dangerous. We cannot see. We lose our sense of direction. We are unprotected from weather and other potential perils.
We equate light with goodness, a theme found in every religious/spiritual path. Light speaks to us of illumination, seeing and understanding. Light beams and broadcasts over everything all at once, flooding us with unifying warmth. It’s no wonder we equate light with God and good.
At our gathering this week, I heard a scripture passage about “light” that I had not heard before. It struck me, in part because it was first read in Arabic by Narjis Pierre of the San Antonio PeaceCENTER. The sound alone seemed filled with light. The English translation the Quran 24:35:
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light.”
Yes! I thought. We were gathered to acknowledge there is only one Source of Light — this Light unites all of us as one. When we shine, each of us in our own discipline, in our own purposefulness, we radiate One Light. Read on for sample scriptures in other faith traditions.
“The light that shines above the heavens and above this world, the light that shines in the highest world, beyond which there are no others–that is the light that shines in the hearts of men.” (Chandogya Upanishad – Hinduism)
“Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness? Can you let your body become supple as a newborn child’s? Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?…” (Tao Te Ching – Taoism)
“Yeshua said, If they say to you, “Where have you come from?” say to them, “We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established itself, and appeared in their image.” If they say to you, “Is it you?” say, “We are its children and the chosen of the living Father.” (Thomas 50 – Christianity)
Friends, we are at a choice point, aren’t we? Do we choose darkness or do we choose light?