Some years ago, in the Mendip caves, all the lights went out and left us in total darkness. Nobody could pick up any light within that darkness. So it was also an experience of blindness, for darkness and blindness become one and the same experience when there is no light. The organ of vision is rendered useless. The fear and horror of everyone’s life is that they might be plunged into darkness and blindness, physical, mental or spiritual. For deep within every human soul is a yearning for light.
In that cave there were two ways in which I could have allowed light to guide me through the darkness. First, by providing my own light, with a torch or naked flame. This light would have been in my control and therefore limited by my own inadequate knowledge of the caves and darkness. Furthermore, I would have pointed it only into the places where I wanted it to shine and followed it only into the places where I wanted to go. A second way was to have my path lit up by a light that was provided and beyond my control. Such light would lead me by lighting up for me that total darkness, but it would also give me total vision. This light would invite my submission and total response.
Epiphany is about light. The Magi followed the star and submitted themselves to the guidance of light. These astrologers taught that the Lord of the universe is eternal light and that the soul of man needs light. The soul needs a light external to itself as well as a light within the soul. It needs the everlasting light from outside itself; otherwise the soul itself is in darkness. The magi submitted to that light and what they found was a king in the form of a child, a king not of man’s making but of God’s making.
Follow that light that is beyond your own control and you will never walk in darkness or blindness. For hundreds of years, since Saxon times and before, people in England have been following that light. When past generations of children were baptized here, they embraced ‘the light which is the life of men’. For centuries it has been your guiding star. He has never let you down, though you may at times have let him down. But for those of you who never deserted him, his Church is your life for which you have sacrificed yourselves in unstinting service and absolute loyalty. Your faith is no passing sentimental religion. It is embedded in the true reality of a sacramental order and life. For the Light you followed is the Word you obey and your earthly pilgrimage is sustained by the angel’s food of Eucharistic bread that touches every part of your life.