The Dual Meaning of Light

Jesus is the Light, and when we seek him, we receive both spiritual and actual sustenance.

William Holman Hunt, “The Light of the World,” c. 1851-1852
William Holman Hunt, “The Light of the World,” c. 1851-1852 (photo: Public Domain)

I had a ton of work piled on my desk and a handful of writing deadlines looming. Unfortunately, my lax creativity didn’t give a hoot about what needed to get done — I was void of even so much as an inkling. I decided to coax my creativity by lighting a candle and placing it on the corner of my desk. As I lighted it, I prayed to our Lord, asking him to send the Holy Spirit to inspire me and light the way in my work.

Suddenly, the energy exploded, the ideas began to flow, and my fingers were deftly tapping away at the keyboard. I was on a roll, and I was loving it!

Then suddenly I heard a weird humming sound and my computer screen went black. I got up and walked around the house to determine if it was just the office or the whole house that had lost electricity. To my dismay, it was the whole house. I grabbed my cellphone, searched the power company’s website and discovered that there had been a weather-induced power outage in my area. I guess that’s what an unusually early and heavy snowstorm can do to power lines. The power being out meant — at least for the time being — no stove, refrigerator, water heater or furnace, among other things. It also meant that the project I’d been working on was out of reach for the foreseeable future. Irritated, I plopped down at my desk and pouted about being stalled in my work. Then, I started to laugh.

The realization hit me that I’d originally lighted the candle for spiritual light, but I ended up needing it for actual light as well. The proverbial joke was on me, and it struck my funny bone.

True, I could have opened my laptop and tried to accomplish something on that. But the absurd stillness of the house beckoned to me. It was as if Christ was intentionally calling me away from my desk and toward himself. I thought that was a kind of drastic way of going about it, but who am I to argue with God? I picked up my rosary, and, since it was coming up on 3 o’clock, I began praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as I slowly wandered around the house. The more I prayed, the closer I felt to our Lord, and the more at peace I felt.

I mulled over the happenings of the day, especially the significance of the candle that had been revealed to me. I had asked for spiritual light, which I gratefully received. In the process, I was given actual light — something I’d need as the hours progressed and darkness approached. I remembered what Jesus had told his disciples, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (see John 8:12). He also told them, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (see Matthew 6:26)

Jesus lights the path of our hearts with spiritual light and lights the path of our lives with actual light. Light has a dual meaning.

Our Lord, if we allow him to, will see to it that our spirits and our bodies receive the utmost care. It may not be in the way that we want (I wanted to be able to continue my work!), but it will be in the way that we need (I needed that spiritual timeout to contemplate the power of God and its impact on my life). The Light that guides our hearts and our lives have the same source, just as the candle’s light for me on the day of the power outage. Jesus is the Light, and when we seek him, we receive both spiritual and actual sustenance. That is the dual meaning of Light.