At this time of year, when winter is finally transforming into spring, when the days have grown longer, when we have moved our clocks ahead an hour, I am more aware of the effect of light than any other time. The disheartening feeling of getting up in the dark and having dinner in the dark is over and done with. No more creeping out of bed before the sun. No more watching car headlights pass by while I’m making supper. Instead, I wake to the sight of cheerful sunbeams dancing on the ceiling. I watch the glory of the sunset when dinner is long over. The sun itself is stronger: instead of thin, weak, ineffective rays, the gold streaks are warm and life-giving. Not only is there more light, but the quality of the light has changed.
Our entire existence is dependent on light. Without light, plants could not grow and provide us with food. Without the warmth of sunlight, our world would be covered with ice. Without light, we could not see to function. Without light, life is not possible. So it is no surprise that many ancient cultures created legends about light. Apollo, the god of light who pulls the chariot of the sun across the sky, often attributed with the power to heal and to defeat evil. Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, a goddess of light who protected gentle animals and other innocents. Persephone, wife of Hades, the god of the dark underworld, who returns to earth each spring, bringing with her warmth and light, often pictured holding a flaming torch. The gods had the power to grant or to withhold light from mankind. The power of light, and therefore life itself, was in their hands.
Modern people understand that the changing of the light is a pattern on which we can rely. We have no fear that days will keep becoming shorter until the light is gone. We know there will not come a day when the sun simply does not rise. We are confident that spring will always come. We trust in the light. We are grateful for the light. Especially now, when we have missed the light for a long time, we are thankful that the light always returns.