To Seek or To Be The Light, That Is The Question

“Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life.

In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are drive by false desire.

When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.

When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.

When we become so false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.

When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the field of memory.

And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The colour and stillness
Of a found world.”

For Light – John O’Donohue
From the book Benedictus

Lauds IV from the series “Light and Magic” ©FrogDiva Photography

Before you read the rest of this entry, I ask you go back and re-read the words of John O’Donohue. Take a walk, sit beside a candle, but take the words to heart and let them sink in. Really sink in.

It is inevitable that I write, photography and philosophise over light during these days. Who wouldn’t, when faced with such grace and elegance? I adore this tree in winter, with the bareness and strength of its exposed core, but when the magical autumn light hits it in the early morning, I am drawn to it with passion and reverence.

As I carve out my niche as author and photographer, choosing to think, act and write out of the box, my thoughts turn towards having a purpose, commitment and advocacy for everything I do. Gone are my days when I craved for fame and fortune and dream of being footloose and fancy-free – well, ok, I am willing to ditch the fame, but I wouldn’t mind the fortune. The older I get, the deeper I dig into my past, retrieving lessons long forgotten and demons to confront. It’s a hell of a bumpy ride, but incredibly cathartic. I can’t talk about the demons, or shall we say, I am not ready to, but those old lessons from childhood or my lost youth are suddenly coming alive again. The strongest is the motto of the Ateneo de Manila being Lux in Domino (the light of Christ) for others. Each Atenean is set out into the world to be a man or woman for others, shining the light of hope, strength and courage for others. It is a tall order to live up to this life mission, but we try our best.

What I learned along the way, after my prolonged battle with depression and emotional abuse, being the light for others is only half the mission. First you must understand and embrace the darkness, accept death and only then can the dawn break and nurture new life. So the revelation to me, 29 years after graduating from the Ateneo, is that life is not about seeking the light at all – but thriving in the shadows, finding and painstakingly building those layers of truth and authentic self in order to give substance to the light that we eventually allow in. What use is it if the light comes into our lives but all it encounters is hollowness? The light should reveal those intricate silhouettes, the sensuous curves of your incredibly beautiful soul, and only then can you become a light for others.

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