So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come. – John 7.30
Time and light are interconnected. And, from the vantage point of our planet, so too do time and darkness appear to us to work in concert.
For example, Civilian twilight (or first twilight) begins the moment after sunset until the sun is six degrees below the horizon. During this time, it is still quite “light” out. Nautical twilight (or, second twilight) begins at six degrees below the horizon and lasts until twelve degrees – a period that during which one probably does not yet need a light on to see where one is walking due to our eye’s ability to adjust to the waning light. This is the time of day where moms all around the world call their kids inside. When the sun reaches twelve degrees to eighteen degrees below the horizon, it is known as astronomical twilight (or third twilight) – the mark point after which it is dark enough for astronomers to begin to make their observations.
True Night only begins when the sun is more than eighteen degrees below the horizon. From sunset to True Night takes a process of time, which varies based on the latitudinal location of the observer.
The application point for the Gospel reading for today, as well as for the approach of Holy Week, is that even though the darkness is nearing Jesus, it is not yet his True Night. Jesus’ hour of nighttime arrest in the Garden has not yet come. It is, so to speak, just the “first” twilight.
Perhaps one application point for our lives, is to remember that light symbolizes consciousness and darkness symbolizes unconsciousness. If we are not awake and aware, we can spend a good deal of our life in the dimly-lit half-light of third twilight, or second twilight or first twilight – fooling ourselves into thinking we are actually living in the full light of day – of full consciousness.
Much of life keeps us asleep in the night of unconsciousness – as well as in the in-between zones of twilight – settling for a half-lived life and missing the mark on the fullness of life and light that Jesus demonstrated to us. Lent is an antidote to sleep and the power of the twilights. Lenten exercises and practices keep us from being swallowed up by the increasing twilight powers of unconscious thought, feeling and behavior.
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