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Let there be Light

pho·to·re·cep·tor

noun: a structure in a living organism, especially a sensory cell or sense organ, that responds to light falling on it.



Yesterday I shook hands with Jesse, signaling our installation was officially done. Once the inspectors do their inspecting, we’ll turn the lever to ON and become energy neutral at Fern Creek, powered by the sun, that dear precious light.


We built Fern Creek 14 years ago with energy conservation in mind. Putting in a geothermal ground source heat pump back then made net zero energy possible now. My parents’ estate and Mark’s generous mother also made this possible. I’m humble and grateful about that just now. Our response to use some of that economic power to lighten our ecological footprint by powering all of Fern Creek with clean, renewable, free-for-the-harnessing energy feels right and good.


I’m noting and learning and experiencing some things about light today.


For instance, the sun just came out after days and days of gray, and instinctively I pushed the sofa against the window to sit in the light. It is warming my face and neck as we speak.


For instance, the forsythia bush outside this very window popped out a sprinkling of yellow nubs and a few open flowers yesterday. It didn’t matter that this yellow-hued pronouncement spoke into a drizzly gray that wrapped itself around those nubs with a cold blanket. Does a deeper knowledge of what is to come make the forsythia’s sap jump-start a race to be first to bloom, coursing up through roots, woody stems, to the tips of twig-like capillaries pushing out little yellow victory flags? Or are forsythia responding to the wake-up call of barely discernible longer days when falling Light calls it to respond the way only a forsythia can?

Maybe those are one and the same.


Being curious, I read about this. There is no competition to be first (which I suspected, but delights me to have affirmed because I think a tie is the perfect end to every competition). Every flowering plant has its own photoreceptor proteins that tell the plant when to bloom. Every plant has its own unique set point dictating when that should happen so as to give it the best chance to thrive. Photoreceptors convert light into signals understood by the rest of the forsythia that set in motion a biological process at the molecular level that results in yellow victory flags. Isn’t that cool?


For instance , it’s not so much that we see light as light makes it possible to see. And when light falls on something so that we see it, we respond. Sure, biologically we know those cells in our retina where light is converted into electrical signals that can be understood by the rest of our nervous system (it's called phototransduction) makes it possible to interpret and act on what we see. We see that it is raining outside and grab a coat. We see that it is snowing and we’ll remember that every long-night-cold-rainy winter ends eventually but first sometimes there is snow. Rain dressed up as crystals and inviting us to come out and play. But maybe also, beyond just biology, when light falls on someone without a coat we respond by giving them ours. Yes. It could be Light works like that, too.


For instance, in an interview on prayer with Krista Tippet, Marilyn Nelson said:


I remember, once, during meditation, I had the image of being in a dark universe

in which the only light was coming through people who allowed themselves to be open to the divine. We are the way light enters the universe. And when we allow the love of the divine to enter us and come through us, we are offering something not only to ourselves, not only the answer to our own little prayers, but also, we are lighting the way.


It could be Light works like that. Sure it could.


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© 2019 Lisa Graham McMinn

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