New Thought Editorials > Believing in the Light


Winter 2004

Believing in the Light

This issue of the magazine will probably be in your hands within a couple of weeks after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year for those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere. The days have gotten shorter, and for many of us, colder. Although we have come a long way from the primitive belief that the sun was about to go out and needed to be encouraged with large bonfires, we still seek warmth, comfort, and above all, light at this time of year.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the festival of lights. Christians long ago arranged their liturgical year so that they celebrated the birth of Jesus, Christmas, during these dark days of early winter. We "cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light" (Ro. 13:12). It matters not at all whether or not these celebrations correspond accurately to history; they meet a vital human need for light at a time when we tend to feel overwhelmed by darkness. Light is vital for our physical and mental well-being, so we burn candles, string lights over our houses and gardens, and decorate Christmas trees. Even New Year’s Eve involves fireworks and other forms of light, and a lighted globe descends in Times Square to mark the arrival of the new year.

Most of us somehow connect light with the Ultimate Reality, God for short. From Genesis to Revelation, light is a major theme in the Bible. God created the universe by starting with light. One of the names for God is "the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). Light symbolizes abundance and prospers us in myriad ways, from growing crops to functioning focused in lasers for scientific and industrial purposes. Light heals, spiritually, psychologically (especially in cases of depression), and quite often physically in medical applications. Jesus called his followers "the light of the world" (Mt. 5:14).

Light also symbolizes wisdom: we speak of being enlightened, or of shedding light on a subject. At times when we feel emotionally dark and cold, we welcome the light of knowledge that comes through our intuition, where input from the rational mind meets and mingles with the enormous power of the other-than-conscious mind to produce an Aha! God often speaks to us in this fashion, along with the time-honored wisdom of scripture ("Thy word is a lamp unto my feet" (Ps. 119:105). Feet symbolize understanding. During the winter season, fields necessarily lie fallow, as if resting before the renewed activity of spring. We are wise to do likewise; to find some time just to sit in the silence—with a comfortable, comforting level of light—and listen for God’s leadings. We can also study spiritual literature during quiet moments that restore us with their balance amid the hubbub of holiday preparations and parties.

And light helps us overcome evil, often symbolized by darkness. We do not overcome darkness with more darkness, but by turning to the light. If it were not possible to turn away from the light, we would have no free will, but would be automatons. The glory to God and the joy to us come from choosing the light. Jesus explained (Joh. 3:19) that because we do not understand the healing power of light, we choose darkness to hide the deeds that we judge as evil. One of New Thought’s central teachings is that we will get more of what we give our attention to; and therefore, if we turn to the light, we will have more wisdom, more joy, more good of every sort; and less of whatever shortcomings we have been manifesting.

People making their transitions are frequently counseled to go toward the light. People undergoing cataract operations that restore sight in near-miraculous ways are advised to keep looking toward the light.

"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light" (Joh. 12:36).