This week, as I prepare to renew my consecration to Jesus through Mary for the 22nd year, I am starting the week with meditation on Yirah HaShem, Fear/Awe of the Lord. This is the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, the fearful and fascinating mystery that we encounter in the presence of the Holy. It is the beginning of Wisdom.
For me, there is nowhere I experience Yirah than in the God of Light.
Like many others, I have experienced this Light during meditation. This Taboratic Light is terrifying, and yet like the loving arms of heaven. When the experience comes, I want to run and stay, laugh and cry, collapse on my face in silent reverence and jump to my feet shouting in joy. No other experience has fascinated and troubled seekers more than this one.
I have found references to it in any tradition I have examined. As a Christian, I have learned the most about it from St Gregory Palamas and the hesychasts of the Orthodox Church who have dedicated a lot of ink to this subject.
God is light. The Religious Society of Friends call the first experience of this light The Visitation, and is the cornerstone of conversion. It was for me.
The first time I ever had this experience was in the fall of 1992, the first time I recited the Rosary. It is hard to express the state of darkness that I was in, but a few of you know it all too well. I was at the end of myself. I was so ready to die, and yet I said the rosary instead. For the first time in my life.
That night, I read the Secret of the Rosary by St Louis de Montfort for the first time, instead of the darker things I had planned. I didn't even own a Rosary. My Great Aunt Inez gave me the book, and that night I read it. I counted the prayers on my fingers. There in the deepest darkness I have ever fallen into, I recited the Angelic Psalter, and experienced that Light for the first time.
I will never forget the tears I cried. The Numinous Light burned through me, and I was so scared and alone... but I wasn't alone. In that terror mixed with awe, I knew for the first time that I wasn't alone. I am shaking a little now as I type this, just remembering that night.
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. This is a truth we can experience for ourselves as so many have over the centuries. All we have to do is quiet our mind so that we can experience the moment naked and unadorned. In the world as it is, this light pervades everything.
This is why today, I stand in the Yirah HaShem, the Fear/Awe of the Lord. Through meditation and prayer, anyone can experience the visitation. Amen.