For anyone like me who grew up in any Protestant tradition in the Bible Belt, these words were probably among the first you ever heard from the Word.
They are probably most popular on January 1st, when millions over-ambitious readers check day one off of their Bible-In-A-Year Reading Plan.
ויהי אור (Hebrew): Let There Be Light
It wasn’t until recently that I was fortunate enough to hear about the other possible understanding of this ubiquitous phrase. “Let” in Hebrew can be used as command, as from a king to a servant, and that was the lens thought which it was most often translated. But there is another perspective, another use…as a request. As a humble plea to allow something to happen. The jussive case (non-existent in English) is a cohortative case: a plea, a desire, an intent.
How many times have I said
“Why do I keep getting in my own way?”
“Why am I self-sabotaging?”
“I just can’t seem to get out of my own head.”
In this phrase there is a beautiful, almost sacred calm. It’s not a command to make something happen, but an invitation to allow the light be. A plea to recognize and enjoy the light, the basic goodness that always is.
All I have to do it let it be.