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The Coming of the Light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)


I write this reflection having just experienced the solar eclipse. We watched it in southern Indiana, which had 100% totality. 


As you may know if you were also watching, it’s hard to describe the experience. We watched with our little eclipse glasses as the sun became a smaller and smaller crescent, like a Cheshire Cat moon. Without the glasses (and of course not looking up), the brightness of the day didn’t look all that different. But gradually, the bare trunks of trees against the sky took on a sharper outline, and the color of the green grass looked deeper, brighter.


And then, suddenly, the temperature dropped at least ten degrees, and we were sitting in semi-darkness. Birds started to sing their evening songs, and even the little peeper frogs, usually quiet during the day, started their chorus.


After three minutes, the crescent began to grow again, and soon it was just another ordinary, beautiful spring day.


I have been thinking about light for a while, partly in anticipation of the eclipse, but also because we lost a dear friend, Tim Reyna, on March 26. Tim was a member of our church family, loved by so many at First Presbyterian and beyond. We became close friends during our Lay Pastor training, and often shared ministries both in the church he served as a Commissioned Lay Pastor, First Presbyterian of Portage, and in the Great Banquet community.


Light and darkness come easily to my mind as I think about Tim. As I’m sure many of you know, Tim was slowly losing his vision due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease that works from the outer edges of the retina towards the center, effectively diminishing peripheral vision.


And so, Tim lived with darkness for much of his adult life—a darkness that was gradually closing in. But anyone who was blessed to know him knew that he refused to be defined by his loss of vision. When God called him to Lay Pastor training, he said yes. When called to serve as a CLP, he said yes. And when called to attend seminary, he completed studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.


You see, Tim kept his eyes focused on the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, whom he now sees fully, face to face.


Those beautiful words that begin the Gospel of John have been echoing in my mind.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.


I experienced another total eclipse when I was ten years old. I have a vivid memory of standing on the lawn of my grandparents’ house in town, seeing the street lights come on in the middle of the day.


Many years later, while attending a teaching conference, I heard a man named Shonto Begay, of the Navajo nation, describe his experience of that same eclipse. He, too, was ten years old, finishing his work among the sheep and goats when the sky began to grow dark. In an essay describing the event, he writes:


I ran into the darkened hogan. Immediately I was told to sit down and remain quiet. I couldn’t even eat or drink. My aunt said the sun had died…The words hit me like thunder. How could this happen? What did we do? I had only begun to live.


Outside toward the east, up on the hill, I heard the rising and falling of prayer song. My father was up there boldly standing in the face of darkness, calling back the sun. I prayed silently with him.


When the eclipse was over and his father “came down from the hill exhausted and happy,” Begay writes, “The sun had regained its form. The holy cycle. The sacred symbol of all creation was reborn this day for me.”


When you read those lines, do you hear echoes of Easter? The sun had died and the world seemed filled with darkness. The people were afraid, since they didn’t know what would happen to them without the sun to light their paths. But the sun was called back to life, and the “holy cycle” was complete.


The similarities between our belief systems are so striking here. Replace the word “sun” with “son,” and you have our story of Easter, expressed in a few lines.


Death and rebirth. The holy cycle. Because the Light of World can never be extinguished by darkness—not for our beloved Tim, and not for us.


May we cherish that Light—that new beginning—each day until, like Tim, we walk in its brightness.


Blessings, dear ones.



Lou Ann 


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