Episode Fifteen: Turning Darkness into Light

Secret of Kells.jpg
I have lived through many ages, through the eyes of salmon, deer, and wolf. I have seen the Northmen invading Ireland, destroying all in search of gold. I’ve seen suffering in the darkness. Yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places. I have seen the book. The book that turned darkness into light.
— Aisling, the Secret of Kells

What do you do if the worst thing you can imagine happens?

What happens if the Vikings invade?

What happens if they destroy your home 17 times in 15 years?

In this week's podcast we look at the beautiful cartoon Secret of Kells, and how it encourages us to respond to evil, death, and sadness not with fear and self preservation, but with light and with beauty. I talk about...

  • Evil uncreates, destroys, and brings chaos, but goodness, creates, orders, and brings beauty.

  • Fear cannot fight evil… it comes from the same source.

  • The gospel is the story where the worst thing happens… but light remains. God becomes vulnerable, and swallows up death. Christianity doesn’t deny the darkness, and it doesn’t even tell us that we won’t get hurt, but it tells us it is not final. 

The history...

Christ Enthroned, 9th Century.

Christ Enthroned, 9th Century.

Book of Kells:

- Also known as the Book of Columba

-  Created in numerous monasteries between the 6-9 centuries.

- The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) written in latin and beautifully illuminated.


At the link below, find the link to the Trinity Libraries fascimile page, which also has more history on the book...

Pangur Bán:

Cat, Friend, Partner


An unknown Irish scribe wrote about his cat, Pangur Bán. He describes both of them going about their duties: one to catch mice, and the other to illuminate meaning....

Pangur Bán





From the ninth-century Irish poem


Pangur Bán and I at work, 

Adepts, equals, cat and clerk: 

His whole instinct is to hunt, 

Mine to free the meaning pent. 


More than loud acclaim, I love 

Books, silence, thought, my alcove. 

Happy for me, Pangur Bán 

Child-plays round some mouse’s den. 


Truth to tell, just being here, 

Housed alone, housed together, 

Adds up to its own reward: 

Concentration, stealthy art. 


Next thing an unwary mouse 

Bares his flank: Pangur pounces. 

Next thing lines that held and held 

Meaning back begin to yield. 


All the while, his round bright eye 

Fixes on the wall, while I 

Focus my less piercing gaze 

On the challenge of the page. 


With his unsheathed, perfect nails 

Pangur springs, exults and kills. 

When the longed-for, difficult 

Answers come, I too exult. 


So it goes. To each his own. 

No vying. No vexation. 

Taking pleasure, taking pains, 

Kindred spirits, veterans. 


Day and night, soft purr, soft pad, 

Pangur Bán has learned his trade. 

Day and night, my own hard work 

Solves the cruxes, makes a mark.


Peace to you all this week! Blessings!

Joy Clarkson5 Comments