For anyone like me who grew up Protestant in the Bible Belt, these words were probably among the first you ever heard from the Word.

They are probably most popular on January first when millions of 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 another understanding of this ubiquitous phrase.  “Let” in Hebrew can be used as a command, as from a king to a servant, and that was the lens through 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 to be.  A plea to recognize and enjoy the light, the basic goodness that always is.

All I have to do is let it be.