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Reflection On Light


Sheila O’Handley,
Diocesan Hermit

Advent Week Four: Reflection on Light continued

The Coming, The Coming is almost here.  Our souls cry out with excitement.  Silence deepens as the Holy Presence of the Cosmic Christ – the Cosmic Light breaks through in the dark and the stillness of night – ‘O Holy Night’.

 The German Christmas carol, ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’, captures the prophet Isaiah’s foretelling…’the maiden is with child’…in chapter 7 verse 10.   While Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting of the Annunciation poignantly details Mary’s personal experience of being penetrated by Divine Light – Divine Consciousness, the painting symbolically depicts her surrounded in Light… no words, no intermediate agent, simply her feminine singleness to consent to give birth to the Cosmic Christ – the Light of the world. 

This miracle of Light deepens when we contemplate what seemingly is God’s paradoxical wisdom-choice of a woman – Mary, from Nazareth, a village of little significance in her day.  Mary is the feminine icon/archetype of Advent’s hoping, waiting, gestating, expecting, and birthing.  The wisdom-choice of this woman -Mary – has far reaching implications beyond Advent and Christmas it brings us deep into the Godhead where the feminine indwell.  This indwelling continues to vibrate in the world, challenging all cultural, historical, psychological and gender-based feminine stereotypes. 

The Annunciation is the foretelling, the great disclosure – that “Light has come into the world and the Light is the life of the world” – John 3:14, and that we are daughters and sons of the Mystery we call God, this is the great birthing we celebrate at Christmas, and this birthing owning to Mary’s yes.

Let us reflect: What was it like for Mary – the woman – the carrier of the Divine- Human presence within her body?  What was this gestating Light like for her?

What was it like for Joseph – the man – the supporting one, the companioning one?  What was the birthing of the human expression of Divine Light like for him?

What was the birthing of the Christ Light – Cosmic Light in human flesh like for Divinity?



Advent Week Three: Reflection on Light continued

Our hearts are filled with expectation as Advent moves ever closer to the manifestation of the Ancient Promise – Immanuel the Light of the world. The Prophet Isaiah in many ways is indeed a prophet of Advent hope, with his emphasis on Light, comfort, and a vision for a people overwhelmed with suffering and darkness, who loss focus and wandered astray.  


 9:1 “The people that walked in great darkness have seen a great Light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a Light has shone.”

 60:1-2 “Arise, shine out, for your Light has come, the glory of Yahweh is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the people.”

40:1 “Console my people, console them……. speak to the heart of Jerusalem ……..

10: 17 “The Light of Israel will become a fire and its Holy One a flame.”

11:6-9 “The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, the calf and the lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them.  The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together.  The lion eats straw like the ox.  The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand.  They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of Yahweh.”

7:14 “The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign.  It is this:  A maiden is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.”

If the Prophet Isaiah were living among us today, I believe he would bolden us to the threshold of our hearts in preparation for Christmas, thus activating Baptismal Light of prophetic values such as: persons over things, belonging over possessing, earth as our common home over nationalism, compassion not power over, peace not war, sisters and brothers one, not separated by race, skin color, gender, religious affiliation, etc. giving birth again and again as sons and daughters of one God – Source of Unity.

Advent Week Two:  Reflection On Light continued

Anticipating the coming of Light into the world, the Second week of Advent brings us a little closer to the revelation of the Divine presence of Light in the world, manifested in human form in Jesus and in us.  This week we might reflect on the generous self-giving of the Trinitarian Community of Love – which is the heart of the Christmas story.  Christmas is the Love Story for all ages and we are the story-tellers, we are the Light bearers of God’s continuous presence in the here and now of the world today.  Jesus in his faithfulness to being the Light of the world showed the way:


Matthew 5:3-10

“How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those that mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure of heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 25:35-37

“I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; I was naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

We reflect: in what way/s we the story – tellers reflect the Divine Light in the world today?  How willing are we to be the Light so that life may flourish?  The generosity of God’s Love Story gives us a moment for pause: when and where does our generosity begin and end?

















The year 2020 has not been an easy year for the human family – it has been a dark time, preoccupied with survival, and care of self and community, in the face of a deadly virus.  Covid-19 created an atmosphere of fear, anxiety, economic upheaval, even a sense of chaotic disorder, all of which transformed, in ways unknown to us, our worshiping and our being a faith community.  And as this reflection is being prepared, evidence indicates that a second wave of the virus is surfacing, edging its way back into the world community.  We wonder if there will be light at the end of the tunnel, even with a vaccine.  Therefore, given this present reality, I thought a reflection on Light as a catalyst of hope might be a helpful Advent reflection.

Advent – the Coming, is the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Christian Community and highlights Light. The lighting of the four candles during the four weeks of Advent suggests a way of preparing our hearts, reawakening us once again to the presence of God’s Infinite Love in the world as the Light of the world.  Today’s culture is busy, often too busy, and we also get consumed with this busyness of commercializing Christmas, with our buying and wrapping of gifts, the preparing of food, decorating, welcoming guests, visiting relatives, neighbours and friends.

My preparation for Advent includes some of the following: 


Morning prayer consists of welcoming the rising sun which shines directly into my window, lighting the stain glass with its various colours of hope. In this experience of prayer, I am grounded in gratitude for the sun’s gift, each second transforming four million tons of itself into Light so that life may flourish.  

Evening prayer, especially at this time of year, is a sitting in the darkness, longing for the Light to return. In this way I welcome the celebration of Winter Solstice. 

Prayer of PRESENCE, which is my silent contemplation throughout the day.


I will focus on the following Scripture passages:

John 1- 9: “The Word was the true Light that came into the word and enlighten all.”

John 8 -12: “I am the Light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be working in the dark; they will have the Light of life.”

Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the Light of the world.  A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.  In the same way your Light must shine in the world, so that, seeing your good works, praise is given to God.”

I have a picture of the Annunciation which is filled with Light, and I sit in silence with it throughout the Advent season.


I will listen to Handel’s Messiah


I will offer a donation to the needy


This year I will make short bread cookies for the seniors.

I will light a candle for World Peace. 

Blessings to you, those you love and all peoples of the world as we continue birthing the Divine in being the Light of Hope.


Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish