I collected this strange group of quotes related to my own search for light in darkness, belonging, hope, and humanity.
Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.
— T.H. White
The first chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, the prequel to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, bears a striking resemblance to the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis and has some affinity to the Prologue of John’s Gospel. It’s a magnificent portrayal of creation, but the key instrument in fashioning the world is not the Word, as in John’s Prologue, rather music. God, Illuvitar in Tolkien’s telling, proposes a musical theme to the angels and invites them to weave harmonies of their own to embellish the original theme. Unbeknown to them, the harmonies they weave, or the disharmonies in the case of Melkor, the Satanic angel, turn out to be musical renderings of realities played out in the history of the material world: They are, in effect, blueprints and foreshadowings of creation’s future. The things that stand out in Tolkien’s creation myth are God’s absolute mastery over all the music, and, therefore, all creation, and His patience and generosity in permitting lesser beings than Himself to share in the work of creation.
Msgr. Charles Fink, Huntington, NY
But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. Einstein
He rolled wheels of fire down the mountainsides at midnight on what we now call Christmas eve. This was to encourage the sun by example. He kept the yule log burning. containing the life of the sacred tree consumed in the sacred element, fire, from which the sun might be rekindled. He burnt his torches; precursors of our Christmas candles. These and a myriad other things, many of which, in a disguised and softened fashion, still survive as Christmas customs. But in all of them man flung his own desperate courage against the precariousness of his circumstances. Presently. out of the vindication of his faith came his joy, and upon it he built his winter festival. Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D.
Peter, Paul & Mary sing Old Coat
Chorus (after each verse):
Take off your old coat and roll up your sleeves,
Life is a hard road to travel, I believe.
I look to the east, I look to the west,
A youth asking fate to be rewardin’.
But fortune is a blind god, flying through the clouds,
And forgettin’ me on this side of Jordan.
As men, we are all equal in the presence of death.
Publilius Syrus (~100 BC)
Frodo: [after destroying the Ring] I can see the Shire. The Brandywine River. Bag End. The Lights in the Party Tree.
Sam: Rosie Cotton dancing. She had ribbons in her hair. If ever I were to marry someone, it would have been her. It would have been her.
[sits down and begins to cry]
Frodo: [leans over and hugs him] I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.
All to say there are many places in experience, art, and literature to find expression of light, or the hope/memory of light when we allow the full human experience to come to bear and are not limited to nativity stories. For me the greatest moment of incarnation in the Biblical narrative is not in the stories of the birth, but much later. I have always objected to those who jump from manger to Calvary because of neglecting the importance of God among us.
Nevertheless, my own life experience takes me there. My experience is very often to be in the dark; trusting that light is still real, waiting for it to break forth yet again like a match in a cave — but still in the dark. So for me the greatest quote of advent seems like it will always be.
Eloi, Eloi, lama sbachthani!
God expressing full humanity which cannot be translated to meaningless cute baby sentimentality — God in the dark, alone — God totally one with us in our humanity.
I can sit in the dark without despair because I meet God and my fellow-man there and light is real even when it cannot be seen.