The Light of God

Yesterday I started reading Philip Newell’s book, The Book of Creation: An Introduction to Celtic Sprirituality. I can already tell I’m going to love it. Its seven chapters are divided up by the seven days of Creation. Genesis 1:3-4 says “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” This passage is the focus of the first chapter.

Concerning Genesis 1:3-4 Newell says, “To say that light is created on the first day is to say that light is at the heart of life.  It is the beginning of creation in the sense that it is the essence or centre from which life proceeds.  At the heart of all that has life is the light of God.”  Newell makes sure to distinguish the light spoken of on the first day of Creation from the sun and moon that are created on the fourth day.  It is the light created on the first day that makes everything else possible.

Newell goes on to say “the heart of all life is the light of God.”  What he says next I find most intriguing. He claims “The more deeply we move in relation to any created thing the closer we approach ‘the divine brillance’ at the centre.”  In other words, the more we get to know other life forms the more we will come to know and experience the light which comes from God.  This means learning more about the flora and fauna that surround us, not to mention our fellow human beings, can bring us much spiritual benefit.

Even though the Scriptures declare that “God is light” Newell is careful to distinguish the light created on the first day of Creation from God Himself.  He says, “God is always more than that light. Though invisible, it is a created light and can never truly reveal the Uncreated.  God expresses the light of creation into being and yet is beyond creation; he is simultaneously immanenet to the universe and transcendent to it.”

Towards the end of the first chapter Newell draws some practical implications of what he has written.  He says “God is to be found not by stepping aside from the flow of daily life into religious moments and environments, or from looking away from creation to a spiritual realm beyond, but rather by entering attentively the depths of the present moment.” What wonderful advice! I encourage you to give Newell’s words some thought and to begin looking harder and deeper for that light which God spoke into existence the first day of Creation long ago.  As God Himself said, that light is “good.”


(This week I’m in Louisville on a summer mission trip with a group from my church.  We’re helping out at a facility with about 500 elderly residents.  On the grounds there are some nice gardens.  I took the pictures shown above there.)