Let There Be Light

An article for the Riverview Reflector December, 2018 issue:

My grandson Julian will be 7 years old just after Christmas. Lately, when I’ve said in front of him that he is 6 ½ he corrects me immediately. “No I’m not Grammy, I’m more like 6 ¾!” Indeed he is! He grows more intelligent and imaginative as the months and years go by. He still comes for sleepovers though they are less frequent due to the reality of school life. When he comes we still always read books before going to sleep – as many books as years he is old. In that current pile of 6 books Let There Be Light* is always included. Let There Be Light is a children’s story book about the beginning of all things, written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and illustrated by Nancy Tilllman. In his opening statement of the book, Desmond Tutu writes, “You are part of something truly amazing”. Mixed in with the Berenstain Bears, Dr Seuss, and various other delightful books Let There Be Light is a must for our sleepover reading. The words and illustrations are both profoundly simple and beautiful. The last time we read it Julian articulated his assessment of the book. “You know why I like this book so much,” he said. “Because the pictures are in 4D – see that Grammy, they’re in 4D!” At his young age he is perceptive of the illuminating light that comes through on each page, in each illustration. More profoundly, his perception of this “4D” illumination is evoking within him a recognition, as imperceptible to him as it may be, of the divine dimension in life that truly is enlightening, compelling, drawing our attention from the darkness around us to its captivating, alluring presence. A fourth dimension is present in the illustrations and he is fascinated by it. I hope he always is.

We are moving further into the darkest time of the year. Days are becoming shorter. The angle of the sun is nearing its winter solstice destination. I love the quiet, still beauty of winter darkness.

And there is another kind of darkness. I don’t have to look or listen too far to see and hear bad news. Globally, internationally, nationally and even within our own neighborhoods and homes we experience dark, heavy, difficult events, trauma and over-stayed unwelcome circumstances. Some are of our own making, some the making of another, some just part of life as it unfolds. Sometimes the darkness is manageable. Sometimes it completely overwhelms and disorients. Sometimes it simply just is.

Christmas, coming in the darkest time of the year reminds us that there is and always will be Light. Darkness will not be forever. If we allow ourselves to patiently look beyond the artificial, twinkling, glittery, LED lights, we will see the divine dimension breaking into the surrounding darkness. That illuminating Light, if we let it, will captivate us and evoke in us childlike wonder and awe. Let there be Light!

*Let There Be Light, written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Nancy Tillman, is published by Zonderkidz, Grand Rapids Michigan. 2013

1 Comment


Dale Murphy - December 18th, 2018 at 7:51am

Let there be light. Seeing things for the first time or even the seventh time must make the sense of wonder so powerful. No wonder we are exhorted to "change and become like little children."