In Orthodox Christian tradition, metaphors of light and darkness have deep mythical and mystical meaning, inviting the literalist mind to turn from its exclusions into the paradoxes of contemplative symbolism at the heart of the mysteries of Patristic wisdom. Contemporary fundamentalism takes many forms, and some forms of Orthodox fundamentalism oppose their versions of a religion of light to a mysticism of darkness, which they regard with anxious suspicion. Self-interested versions of apophatic mysticism then rise up in revolt against what they regard as a dogmatism of light, which they see as authoritarian. Driven by fear, fundamentalism seeks to reimpose control, making its shallow religion very narrow, answering rebellious narcissism with authoritarian narcissism. All this leads nowhere, except perhaps an abyss of warring versions of self-obsession, until wisdom releases conflicting versions of binary exclusion into healthy, liberating openness, renewing a culture of the heart capable of handling metaphorical and symbolic depths of meaning. Authoritarian exclusion then begins to release into integral Patristic wisdom, for whom uncreated light is dazzling darkness to the grasping mind, but because contemplation sees light through light, metaphors of darkness are qualified with metaphors of dazzling light. For Patristic wisdom, God is light and creation in God is light, dazzling darkness to the binary mind, ineffably enlightening to the heart.
Christ, in whom all darkness is dispelled, unveils his presence in uncreated light, but outside the Spirit, we are in the dark for our blind eyes cannot see. Initially, religion comes to our aid with created shadows through which wisdom then leads us into uncreated light, fulfilling the shadows of created religion in the uncreated light of the Gospel. Fundamentalism, out of fear, reduces the Gospel to shadowy narrows, dominated by the desire to control, whereas wisdom generously cures fear by renewing the heart with the Gospel of uncreated light. Wisdom is able to raise fundamentalist belief to illumined faith, unveiling narrowed shadows so hearts shine forth in heaven like stars. What is dark to the binary mind, because it cannot be conceptually grasped, is light to the illumined heart. Apophatic metaphor in Patristic tradition gives created form to uncreated light; form is not at war with the formless. Theosis, for desert elders, wounds the heart to heal it of addiction to confusion so as to free the heart from divisive allergies to union. Patristic wisdom is therapeutic in ways that are inconceivable to conventional therapies, but grace does not destroy nature but completes it. The shadows depart when light shines so that what was hidden is revealed. The Spirit shines forth in the heart as uncreated light, opening light to light and glory to glory. Abraham’s faith gave form to his awakening to uncreated light, imparting trust to Moses, whose heart awakened to the saving Name, illumined by uncreated light. Wisdom in Christ discerns the glory of the Name in theophanies of ineffable beauty, beauty that saves fear from its compulsive addiction to manipulation and control.
Wisdom is beautiful in her infinite capacity to unbind addictions and free allergies from compulsive obsession. Shadows flee when the Gospel frees the heart from narrow constrictions. As wisdom arises in the heart and shines, darkness releases into light, but uncreated light is dazzling darkness because the binary mind cannot grasp her ineffable radiance. The heart opens to the Beloved, but when the mind tries to grasp the Beloved, the Beloved is nowhere to be found. Divine darkness is actually the action of uncreated light, liberating the mind so as to illumine the heart. Enlightened faith is the state of the heart being grasped by God, overwhelmed by uncreated light. It liberates fundamentalist belief from its shallows, to free it from its narrow shadows. The divine Lover is beautiful and loves beauty in the Beloved, which wisdom sees as the hallowing radiance of the saving Name. Her ravishing beauty mirrors the ravishing beauty of God, the glory of the Father radiant in the Son, the light of the Spirit uniting seer and seen. Here in the Holy of Holies, divine union is mirrored in a Cherubic embrace, extending a hand of union to creation as an angelic embrace, wedding earth to heaven in uncreated light. A Cherubic Hymn enthrones these mysteries in every heart, employing metaphors of light and darkness to transmit mysteries of union. Unbinding the double binds of the constricted mind, wisdom releases the heart of the constructions which obscure her unknowing vision, liberating light into glory beyond every metaphor. But wisdom inspires speech because what cannot be said still needs to be shown, which obliges the tradition to work with metaphor and to speak of dazzling darkness to transmit the mysteries of uncreated light.