Note: This piece was drafted a few months back during Oxford’s incredibly wet summer season.
It’s been rainy in Oxford lately. Like, really rainy––so rainy that I can count on one hand the times I have seen sunshine in the past month. Depressing, huh? It seems that every sort of possible weather record has been broken this summer in England. Whew. We are hanging in there though, and we’ve gotten really good at puddle jumping….or rather puddle wading, as my daughter has resorted to swimming in giant puddles near our flat since this summer has yielded zero pool time for her. You gotta make do, right?
The other morning it was actually sunny when I awoke, and the feeling of warm sunlight streaming through the blinds just made my whole spirit come alive. I jumped out of bed, made tea cheerfully and had a wonderful time of quiet and reflection all before my daughter awoke. It was amazing to see how much just a little bit of sunshine lifted my whole being. As I sat and reflected that morning I couldn’t help but take note of how much more fresh and inviting my flat appeared in the sunlight. It was like my furniture and the artwork, being illuminated by the sunlight, were saying, “Ah, this is how we were meant to be seen! These are our true colors!” Don’t get me wrong: cozy lamps are a good thing, and they are my sanity on the rainy dark days of late, but something about the true source of light illuminating my flat that morning made me wish it would never stop shining.
When you see sunshine for days on end you can easily take it for granted. Treasuring and savoring these few little gifts of it here and there this past month has really taught me to appreciate it, and it’s surprising how much I have been reflecting on it. Here are some simple truths that I have recognized lately:
- I feel warm and good when standing in the sunshine.
- I feel seen and known and somehow recognized in sunlight.
- I feel inspired and eager to press on when the sun shines.
- I feel illuminated and powerful when the sun is shining on me.
I don’t think it’s by mere chance that some of the greatest and oldest universities in the world have the word ‘light’ included in their mottos. Oxford’s motto is “The Lord is my Light.” Columbia University’s beautifully states, “In Thy light, shall we see the light”. And Yale’s motto is “Light and Truth”. I’m sure there are many others I am not including.
Almost all of these are spiritual allusions, which speak personally to me. But even if not so much to you, the notion of light illuminating darkness and paving the way to knowledge and truth is a pretty profound image to reflect upon.
I know that sometimes my husband’s work can get incredibly tedious and exhausting, and the direction of his research can start to get quite hazy. It’s a constant prayer of mine that clouds of confusion would be gone from his studies and that his work would be illuminated by light, creativity and truth.
How do these mottos and metaphors of light/knowledge speak to you?