Use what light we have for good
The light shines unevenly; Dante had that right. But I don’t buy his idea of a “Lord” who shines the light, or not, like a director offstage.
There are moments when we might imagine — or even prefer — a world that is governed by an omnipotent being. If you just stand in the perfect spot, the sun will shine brightly, the water will not overwhelm, and the ground will never give way.
You can hear that longing for order in the story of creation: There is evening and morning, the first day; evening and morning, the second day …
But not always: There is also the story of Noah and the flood, and the famine in Egypt.
Sometimes there is just no accounting for the light.
I agree with process theologians who reject the notion of a God who directs, controls, shines. God creates us with free will. We make decisions, and they have consequences, intended and unintended.
The freedom is system-wide. Human cells are designed to behave a certain way, but sometimes they deviate, multiplying wildly.
Randomness takes its toll.
In an inexplicably uneven world, we are called to use what light we have, to bring what good we can, to as many as we can.
God’s light is always present
Can one deny that some people seem to be more blessed than others? Is it not true that there are those who have more than their share of troubles? Isn’t it irrefutable that much of what we have has more to do with our circumstances than with our efforts?
If so, then Dante’s statement rings true, but it’s not the whole story. God’s light flows in good measure for anyone who chooses to receive it. The challenges one is given may distract a person from the light, but the light is there.
During the hardest times, we can either receive the light as a source of strength or refuse to see that there is any light at all. Often, what one cannot see is that those who are perceived to be the beneficiaries of the greatest blessings can be more miserable than those with the humblest of circumstances.
One who sees the blessing in everything will never say that she has less of the Divine light than the wealthiest person on earth. The one who sees God’s hand in creation knows that if God’s light is perceived to shine unevenly, it just means that someone needs an attitude adjustment.
People either use life as an opportunity to receive and share light, or not. Dante’s narrow view of the cosmos may be the most obvious, but it is the least helpful.