My love affair with Light is deep and passionate. Dipping into light is a meditation on life’s bounty, paying homage to the souls who ventured into the Dark and returned with sparks of Light—light that ennobles humanity.
The title was inspired by the poet Mary Oliver, who portrays prayer as, a dipping of oneself toward the light.1 When we acquire the courage to venture into the Dark, that act turns into a prayer. The journey into the dark is a journey of faith—rooted in the belief that forgiveness and compassion predate the creation stories and are woven into the very fabric of the universe.
The introduction of Light in sacred text, is both a physical act as well as metaphor for the dawning of human consciousness. In essence, Light is what makes our species fully human—yet humans hold dual citizenships—not only to Light’s transformative power, but also to its faithful twin—the Dark—where embryos are nourished and dreams are formed. I do not view these twins as adversaries, but as complementary domains—each offering its unique gifts, and each cross-pollinates with the other for the well-being of a vibrant, captivating life, overflowing with promise.
If Light is a metaphor for human awakening, is it not reasonable to ask what does it point humanity to? The answer is the fundamental “amen” of the universe, shouting since its inception: Love, Love, Love!. In the words of Henry Miller: If there is anything that deserves to be called miraculous, is it not love? What other power, what other mysterious force is there which can invest life with such undeniable splendor? The miracle which everyone is permitted to experience sometime in his life, the miracle, which demands no intervention, no intercession, no supreme exertion of will, the miracle which is open to the fool and the coward as well as the hero and saint, is love. Born of an instant, it lives eternally. And in biblical language, 1 John 3:14: We know we have passed from death unto life because we love. Light is inexorably bound to Love, which is succinctly distilled in these six words by the poet Dylan Thomas: Love is the last light spoken.
Light, like love, gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished. As conveyed by the contemporary spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle: The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.
More on Light is found in the introduction to my retrospective book, Dipping Into Light; A Lifetime of Photography.
New York City, January 1, 2014
1Mary Oliver, (Winter Hours, Houghton Mifflin, 1999) 108.