Sunday, September 16, 2007
I don’t know when or why this ritual started, but it has been part of my children’s bedtime routine as long as I can remember. When I tuck them in, I say the Numbers 6 blessing over them: “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” I tried for a while using other blessings from the Bible, but they didn’t go for it. Their sense of ownership of these words is so complete, they still smile whenever they hear it in church and whisper, “Mom, that’s my blessing!”
Yesterday we were walking around the zoo and it was a beautiful sunny day. Sitting on a bench, I closed my eyes and soaked in the sense of warmth, well-being, and life that sun brought to me. I could almost feel my anxieties letting go, the irritation of being sick and the loneliness of moving lessening as my body relaxed. There, with the sun on my face, I felt strong, at peace, and whole. And maybe I got right then a hint of what it must be like for God to make his face shine on me. I wish it were as easy as finding some sun to soak my face in. But the light that truly cuts through despair comes from God alone, which I suppose is good news for despair that seems at times God-sized.
Today in church we sang an old Latin hymn, paraphrased here by John Dryden. The second verse addresses the Creator Spirit as “source of uncreated light.” The word “uncreated” stuck with me. Uncreated in that it is above, before, and beyond created things; uncreated in that it is beyond human strength to produce it. I think it is normal to want to find again the feeling of goodness I got sitting with the sun on my face. But no matter how determined my efforts to find it, the lesson of uncreated light is that it comes ever and only as a gift. I can’t create it. I can’t control it. I can only yearn for it, and pray for myself and for others that God would “make his face shine on us.”
Maybe the best news about uncreated light is that it is, by nature, greater than all the created darkness humans have brought forth in the world since Eden. Uncreated light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Light made not by human hands, but the irrepressible light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. So God of uncreated light, shine this day your face upon us. Cut through the night that threatens and make us believe again in light so great that no darkness created by human hands can even come close to dimming its glory.