There was light
featuring parishioner Emilie Oyen
In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
The paradox of the first chapter of Genesis is that it assumes both everything and nothing. Everything: it was written much later than the rest of the book and therefore is meant to serve as an introduction to a set of stories about the God that is already known as the one in whom the people of Israel believe. Nothing: it asserts that if you know nothing else about this God then the starting point is that this God is the Creator, the force/power/entity/will that brings all that is into being. While many in contemporary culture see this account as being in conflict with contemporary scientific knowledge, it is striking that this ancient author begins his grasp of God with the creation of light, the primal force of the known universe as understood by physicists.
- The Rev. Craig Townsend
It is 6:15. Out the bedroom window, the sky is powder blue and hot and the evening is as silent as a summer field, as if 8 million people suddenly chose this moment to memorialize something together -- a baseball team or a child -- or to pray. There’s an occasional taxi horn off in the distance, perhaps across Central Park passing Lincoln Center where dancers are pulling on their costumes and stretching and chatting about nothing. Or perhaps it comes from the park itself, where drunkards still sits on park benches, harmless and resigned, watching the Italian tourists take pictures of squirrels, or maybe it’s from Madison Avenue where a salesman leaving work checks his reflection in the Chloe store window...
I believe this is the most beautiful moment of the day, no matter the season or the country. The hovering hour -- suspended, exempt, and vulnerable. The rules are set aside for a moment as the day parts to night, as I lie here ignoring the world. I can hear the children downstairs absorbed in an elaborate Lego project together. I can feel their harmony. I know how they're sitting together on the floor with their heads bowed in concentration. I know their peace, and I know when strife will begin even before they do. I am grateful for the spirit that connects us tonight -- I’m grateful that we don’t even have to talk as my eyes close and I drift off on my private raft. The evening light on my eyelids is red and very gentle. I will never move from this bed again.
The heavens and the earth? I wonder. I can’t even muster the energy to get up and boil water for corn.
I open my eyes. The brilliant white light against the limestone building across Park Avenue is like the light of Rome during Caesar. The balustrade and ivy reliefs blaze for less than a minute before the light slowly retreats across the building and the wall dims. Did I really just see that? Something moved that wasn't even there. Amazing. This orchestra of light and darkness is happening always -- light in the heavens, light for signs and for seasons and for days and for years, light upon the earth, light to rule the day and to rule the night, light to separate the light from darkness. Every day God is creating the heavens and the earth before us.
Why do people long for one another? Why is there so much pain? The other day our Rector was on a subway when a woman came up to her and asked to hold her hand. She said Sure, and the woman asked if she would pray for her son who was in trouble. So she did. The light moves forward and the light retreats. The dancers and drunkards, salesmen, tourists and children go about their day while the Holy Spirit manifests itself all around us. Do you believe it? It is God’s love, and it ushers light, and please don’t worry about anything my dear friend -- it will reach you today, because it is everywhere.
- by parishioner Emilie Oyen