Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been on a metaphorical kick lately. Or more succinctly that I frequently preach both with and about metaphors. It seems to me that all theology and much of Sacred Scripture is metaphorical by design. After all, how can one speak about the “unknowable” except through metaphor? Or again more succinctly and in the words of a favorite theologian, Karl Rahner, God is best described as “Absolute Mystery.”
Lest you object or wonder, consider this – last Sunday Jesus called himself a “good shepherd” and this Sunday he’ll describe himself as the “true vine.” Other Biblical passages use a wide assortment of images and objects to speak of God’s presence and actions in our world.
So I want to briefly share a little piece found in yesterday’s New York Times. In answer to the question, “where does a candle go when it burns?”, we discover that through the burning process 99.9% of a candle becomes carbon dioxide and water vapor and 0.1% smoke, soot, and other gases.
The Times piece continues, “as a candle burns, the CO₂ and water vapor it produces will cool and mix into the air in the room, becoming indistinguishable from any other molecule of CO₂ or water. Over the next few hours, as the air in your room is exchanged with the air outdoors, the molecules from your candle will escape the room and begin to disperse into the atmosphere. After about a year, atoms from your candle will have spread completely around the globe. For the next few years, every time someone takes a breath of air, they’ll be breathing in a few carbon atoms from the wax and a few oxygen atoms from the air in your room.”
Because light is such a prevalent and oft-used Biblical metaphor, I really appreciated learning this. If our faith and love are light (think candlelight) then there is a literal sense in which our faith and love can and indeed do spread far and wide, even globally! Kind of cool, huh?
Blessings and happy shining…