Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Light to Light

When my husband took a recent business trip, that meant that all the dog walking duties fell to me. Of course, that's what happens any time either of us goes out of town.

Since Thursday is a class day, I set the alarm for 5:45 a.m. (I know, I know--some of you think that's sleeping in). Anyway, I bounded out of bed--really--and very soon set about walking the dog around the block. At that time of the morning, now in November, it is still quite dark. I found myself walking along, going from light to light.

Our neighborhood only has a few street lights--and none of those is on our actual street. We have a pole light, and leave it on all night every night. It is one of the few spots of light on our street. The trip around the block can be marked by watching for each light, and then the final destination light of our pole light.

This morning's walk struck me as a kind of metaphor for life. In some ways, we all proceed from light to light. Of course, we pass through dark times--we have all had them. And even in the middle of that darkness, we are looking, hoping for the light.

I suspect my affinity for light just now is heightened by some minor eye surgery I recently had. While not major surgery, it did require that for a day, I have my damaged eye sheathed by an eye patch. What an inconvenience. I really minded my sudden monocular vision. It is nearly impossible to read for any extent with only one eye. And, of course, anything requiring depth perception is out of the question. I couldn't wait to get that patch off--to reclaim full light.

One of my favorite hymns celebrates the power of light. Written by John Henry Cardinal Newman, the words were inspired by his being unable to get home in an age of sailing when his ship was becalmed. He was frustrated and sat down and wrote out the first verse.

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet;
I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Occasionally, our church choir sings this hymn as its benedictory piece. It is a lovely quiet plea for the light.

No wonder that light symbolizes guidance and safe-keeping. Go from light to light.


Mary said...

Yes, we're on the same wavelength tonight, Donna.

During a season with little light, we sure need it now!

Hope your surgery was successful and you can return to normal soon!


Ruth said...

I think that vision is the sense I value most. Total darkness is very disorienting and we do need to focus on a light ahead. I hope you feel safe on your early morning walks in the dark. When we were in your part of PA, I really noticed the lack of lighting in residential areas. We have plenty of streetlights in our area.

NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely post. One of my favorite hymns, but I've yet to hear a congregation that could actually sing it properly.

RuthieJ said...

Our neighborhood has only 1 streetlight, but lots of ambient light from surrounding commercial areas. I actually crave total darkness outdoors and there's nothing I like better than walking to and spending time at the deerstand in the woods in total darkness.
(yeah, I'm kinda weird!)

Climenheise said...

"I'd rather go deaf than blind -- I can't imagine not being able to see." "Well I'd rasther go blind than deaf -- I can't imagine being able not to hear." Grandfather and his brother in conversation.

KGMom said...

Mary--it was most interesting to see your post and see how close our topics were.

Ruth--I do feel completely safe in our neighborhood, walking day or night. A very nice feature of where we live.

NC Mtn Woman--I completely agree--the syncopation of the hymn is part of what makes it difficult to sing. People rush the timing.

RuthieJ--not weird, just. . .special. You have had practice sitting in the dark--that makes it less foreboding.

Daryl--yes, I remember the anecdote. One of my favorites and so indicative of the human capacity to adapt to the circumstance that one must live with.

Tina said...

Very interesting posts! I really enjoyed reading both the light post and the post on names! You're correct about certain names dying out while others stay strong...but what I noticed is that the Roberts today are always Bobs and Matthrews are always Matts, Williams are Bills or Billy?? I also ran into the double up names when I taught...but some times I would run into names I couldn't even begin to pronounce!

JeanMac said...

A really touching post, Donna. (Our semi-rural neighborhood has only the stars for light. Guests from the city enjoy it.)

nina said...

Without a constant supply of daylight, there's something very special about walking from light to light. It creates a more definite path.

Ginnie said...

I love the play of light...both in cities and in rural settings. I agree with your commentor who said they'd rather be deaf than blind.

Ginger said...

I love your metaphor, especially at this time of year when it seems there's so much darkness with the days shortening up.

Now that you mention it, there are a number of lovely hymns about light....