Christ has risen, as He said; He is truly risen. Alleluia!
During Lent one year – whether it was last or the one before escapes me – I read a suggestion for a Lenten penance that involved using nothing that produced artificial light after sundown. Depending on the date of Easter this may have a more or less arresting effect on its practitioners; this year the switch to daylight savings time came early on, but last year the clocks (in Europe at least) jumped forward an hour on Easter night itself, thus making it even shorter than it normally would be. In 2013, then, abandoning light bulbs and computer and television screens would have been quite the thing. Despite all that, it seemed to me to be wonderfully romantic and medieval in a way that I enjoy greatly, all of which probably precluded it from ever being a suitable penitential measure for me.
Easter is all about light; from the fire to the Exultet and all the way down to some of the twee-est, sappiest colouring-in books you can imagine, you hear lumen Christi and you might sing Christ be our light (commiserations if the latter was imposed upon you in any setting other than a campfire shindig). The tomb is pitch black, Christ’s pristine Body is scarred by our sins, and it is only by His descending into the lifeless darkness that there can be any hope of healing the gaping chasm between God and His creation.
Now because I’m weird, I prefer the church when it’s dark. Electric lights are so harsh and we seem so petrified of operating without them. Of course we have a justified preference for surgery to take place under good lighting, but not everywhere is an operating theatre!
So it was during the Vigil this year (for me). Even though Easter is so late anno 2014, the falling darkness of the evening meant that the fire really had a role to play. The symbolism of candles and flames and all this is wonderful, but the perks of 21th Century living are not without some loss of realisation of how the ‘Mysterious’ happenings are directly reflected in the lives we lead here and now. The Light is our inheritance, but we’ve not yet come in to it.