The study of light from a woman’s perspective has, for the past year of my life, been brightened by the works of a blind man. Excavating the elements of light within the power of womanhood by studying of the thoughts of Jacques Lusseyran has not only allowed me a new freedom of expression in my personal life but has also allowed me to build a new paradigm around what light and darkness can mean. We will look briefly at two of Lusseyran’s published works: And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II and Against the Pollution of the I.

A definition of light for our purposes is essential at this point. As one who studies the subject at hand, my working definition and understanding are that light radiates through endless universes and is the power measured in particle energy. Light is the absence of the dark and is God’s power of creation through the Holy Spirit—creation is an exercise in light. As such, we are imbued with light: we could envision this light as the vibrating life force we were born with, allowing us to breathe and think (Isaiah 2:5). This power enables communications with the gods and all other creatures. It is essential to appreciate light’s power and glory—our glory. The source of this power and light is our creator, God or Christ, or the power of God’s redemption and love—a power greater than us all. Some would call this the light of Christ, speaking doctrinally. However, within the expansive space of womanhood, I have found that there are innate, premortal powers of light that women have in the form of foreordained callings, roles, authorities, and capacities (John 1:4–9).

Science can help us expand the definitions above: In his book, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, author Brian Greene says, “Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 for introducing the idea that light can be thought of as composed of tiny particles of energy, or photons, rather than as one continuous wave. This idea revolutionized how scientists thought of light, energy, radiation, and how they react.” Greene further explains that Einstein’s thought has led to string theory, which suggests that “everything at its most microscopic level consists of combinations of vibrating strands—string theory provides a single explanatory framework capable of encompassing all forces and all matter… Far from being a collection of chaotic experimental facts, particle properties in string theory are the manifestation of one and the same physical feature: the resonant patterns of vibration—the music, so to speak—of fundamental loops of string… All matter and all forces are unified under the same rubric of microscopic string oscillations—the ‘notes’ that strings can play” (Greene).

Jacques Lusseyran was also a student of light. In And There Was Light, Lusseyran tells the extraordinary story of his life until after the Second World War; the book was published posthumously, for he died in 1947. We reap the benefits of his remarkable insights about where light comes from and its capacitating power. The book And There Was Light was initially written in French; as such, its English translation feels difficult at times, but it is well worth the effort.

And There Was Light will help expand our current paradigm regarding light and our access to it. Lusseyran describes in detail how light and darkness feel: “I liked seeing that the light came from nowhere in particular but was an element just like air. We never ask ourselves where air comes from, for it is there and we are alive. Darkness, for me was still light but in a new form and a new rhyme. It was light at a slower pace. In other words, nothing in the world, not even what I saw inside myself with closed eyelids, was outside this great miracle of light.” He also tries to help us understand that he could hear the vibrations of light. “There was the sound, its echo, and another sound into which the first sound melted and to which it had given birth, altogether and endless procession of sounds.” (Lusseyran-1, 6, 18)

Lusseyran was born in Paris in 1924 into a loving and stable family. Blinded by a freak accident at the age of seven, he was thrust into a life of what we could call darkness, but it was not darkness, according to his account. From the time of the accident, Lusseyran sensed light within himself that allowed him to see and feel, in a very literal sense, his way through life. “There were times when the light faded or disappeared; but this was only when I was afraid or hesitated, doubted or began to calculate” (Lusseyran-1, 14).

The loss of his sight was a tragic accident. While running to the classroom door and heading for the playground at his elementary school in Paris, an older boy accidentally ran into Jacques from behind. Jacques lost his balance and fell, striking the glasses he was wearing on the sharp corner of his teacher’s desk. One of the arms of the glasses punctured his right eye and tore it away. Surgery was performed, but the sight in his injured eye was not restored. He soon lost sight in his left eye, as well, due to sympathetic ophthalmia. His brilliant parents refused to put him in a blind institution and, in many ways, treated him as if he was sighted. He praises his mother, “What a mother can do for a blind child can be explained in a few words: give him birth a second time. That is what my mother did for me. My only job was to turn myself over to her, believe what she believed. She learned braille with me and watched over my homework. She added love, and it is well known that that kind of love removes obstacles more effectively than all the sciences” (Lusseryn-1, 31).

Lusseyran participated in “what grown-ups call despair” for a short time. One day, Lusseyran realized he was looking at things incorrectly: “I was looking too far off and too much on the surface of things. I began to look more closely, not at things but at a world closer to myself, looking from an inner place to one further within.” We receive the benefits of this youngster’s horrific accident almost immediately, as he asks us to look inwardly when faced with trials. Soon after beginning to look inward, he became aware of a new sensation. “I was aware of a radiance emanating from a place I knew nothing about. But radiance was there or: to put it more precisely, light. I found joy and light at the same moment. I saw light and went on seeing it though I was blind. I saw the whole world in light, existing through it and because of it. I let it rise in me like water in a well, and I rejoiced. I was only a passageway, a vestibule for this brightness” (Lusseyran-1, 11–12).

Proficient in Braille, languages, literature, and art, he answered Charles de Gaulle’s 1938 call for resistance against the Nazi regime. Lusseyran formed a resistance movement leading 600 young people called “The Volunteers of Liberty,” which became a network of information to Paris and beyond. He kept all records and 1,500 phone numbers in his mind to protect everyone from the Gestapo. He memorized the streets of Paris by every footstep and could run at full speed from fulfilling one need to another while organizing and protecting the volunteers.

While attending school as if nothing would come of the growing crimes of the Nazis, Lusseyran knew that “From now on, the world was like a giant kettle heated by rancor and violence” (Lusseyran-1, 99). Jacques was 16 years old and learning to be a leader. He had teachers and mentors, but nothing prepared him for what was ahead. The Nazis had perfected ways of inserting themselves where they did not belong throughout Europe. They looted homes and properties with no explanation, just requisitions. He could not afford to be jealous, unfriendly, or anxious to win because doing so led him into a fog or a black hole of dark helplessness. The misuse of his mind always had consequences.

Lusseyran was arrested in 1943, tortured, imprisoned, then sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he endured atrocities and what he calls the “two realities of light and faith” (Lusseyran-2, 11). He became a beacon of charity and hope among his fellow sufferers. He survived 18 months there and was among just a handful of survivors General Patton liberated. He was 20 years old.

Early in the book, Lusseyran tries to explain or intellectualize his definition of what I would call either an inner self or a sense of another part of himself. One day he recognized that he was not alone within himself. The universe that he once thought was of his own making was given to him “by someone or something who, evidently, was very much inside of [him] but who in another sense [he did not at all identify with]. Someone is watching deep within. And for him, linear space had no meaning whatsoever” (Lusseyran-2, 77). There is a sense that Lusseyran perceives the presence of the Holy Ghost, God, or his own spirit, which is full of divine magnificence. He explains that the external world blinded him, but what would be worse was to be blind to this inner world, the world of inner light.

While Lusseyran does not identify a god beyond a universal principle until he describes the mercies he received in the Nazi prison camp, he is profoundly aware and grateful nonetheless for the gift of light. Later, in The Pollution of the I, he examines the inner space or the consciousness and tells the remarkable story of his time in Buchenwald in greater detail, where he identifies God and His Son Jesus Christ as the sources of the light he feels. Even during the hellish year in the so-called hospital camp, the light in his mind took him to joyous places. Each time I open his books, I find wisdom for growth. I am nudged toward light—to seek and embolden my own light. I am pointed toward the possibility of having a mind full of joy regardless of circumstances.

This is punctuated by his experience of being moved from the Invalids’ Block to the camp hospital, where they took prisoners to die. In March 1944, dysentery, pleurisy, infections in both ears causing total deafness, and erysipelas of the face bordering on blood poisoning took over his body. He had little memory of his time in the horrid place because his mind took him to another world with no fear, only life. “Life had become a substance within me. It was certainly not made of flesh and blood, not even of ideas. It came toward me a shimmering wave, like the caress of light. I could see it beyond my eyes and my forehead, and above my head. It touched me and filled me to overflowing” (Lusseyran-1, 252).

Unable to help himself, he drew his strength from the spring he identifies as celestial. He knew there was something he had to do: stay focused and choose not to refuse God’s help. Calling that battle a hard and wonderful fight, he refused to allow his body to be taken by fear. “For fear kills, and joy maintains life.” On May 8th, he walked out of that hospital, free to now help others. He could “turn the flow of light and joy which had grown so abundant in me toward them.” He became well-known and loved. They called him the “man who didn’t die.” For the next 11 months, he carried on the vigil. The last ten pages of the book are witness to both the horror and majesty of humankind. On April 9th, trusted news of liberation came via a little fourteen-year-old Russian boy. Life and joy were indeed triumphant (Lusseyran-1 253–54).

As I read the story above, perhaps like you, I am calculating how the light in my female heart can learn from this man whose eyes did not tell him the lies we see with our sighted vision. Our eyes tell us lies about how we compare to others, our value on social media, our level of beauty, and even how much others may love us. Lusseyran’s path was how ours must become: a path of learning a new way of seeing. Our ego-selves, restricted paradigms, and impatient brains challenge us at every turn. The question of how to connect with and draw the power of light to us, as Lusseyran did, haunts us.

These last days are full of dilemmas and sorrows in both variety and degree that outpace anything known in our world’s history. Life is devalued. Thus, motherhood is devalued; fidelity and chastity are ridiculed; morality has no footing; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are common; marriage is scorned; and childbearing is foolish. Pornography is tolerated in even the most stable-appearing homes as Christian women quietly endure the destructive sexual behaviors of their husbands (and yes—husbands also endure wives’ destructive behaviors) for fear of embarrassment or shame. Fear and darkness rule the minds of too many women as the world seems bent on destruction. There is indeed more than one type of prison camp. Our minds are powerful, and our misuse always has undesirable, even dreadful, consequences.

I have witnessed these things for myself. For almost three decades, I have been involved in different capacities within addiction (i.e., addict, white-knuckling addict, addict-in-recovery, service missionary, sponsor, facilitator, group leader, and full-time senior missionary). I have been an out-of-control opioid addict while being an active member of my Christian congregation. I masterfully justified my addiction. I told myself that I was different, could handle it, and that God would be ok with it. My mind was dark and unforgiving. I know now that I was suffering in a lightless world with no concept of how to begin a search for the inner light I lacked.

One day the dark space in my mind led me to contemplate serious plans to end my life. As I was justifying even those absurd thoughts, I explained to God that I could not live in this darkness anymore. At that very moment, a light appeared over my head, and I heard, “Michele, you do not have to live like this!” For those few moments, a message of light or an understanding of the darkness I had been living in came full force to my core. I immediately went into withdrawals and began a path to recovery, which took a decade. Later, during another decade of missionary work, I witnessed the changes that come to a woman’s mind when she connects to the light within herself. The type of light that I believe Lusseyran tries to help us identify in his writings.

I held the shaking shoulders of women in the deepest kind of shame. I have listened to the stories of hearts crushed by betrayal trauma and see the rage of women trapped in a hundred types of anger and blame. I have sobbed with women tortured by maternal guilt to the point that they cannot get out of bed, much less forgive themselves for what they did not know while mothering their children who have committed suicide or left the covenant path. I have witnessed how regret, self-pity, dark negative thought patterns, alcohol, and heroin all sicken the body in like manner. I have listened to the lies produced in countless severely addicted and lightless minds and heard stunning truth pour out of women who have suffered the consequences of abortion and rape. Moreover, I have seen what happens to these women when they finally find that first glimmer of light within themselves. I stand in awe at the majesty and magnificence of the women we are surrounded by while we have no idea of their horrendous journeys from darkness to light!

Notice early on in Lusseyran’s experience with blindness that when he discovered light within his dark world, he found joy at the same moment—he could exist both through it and because of it. Likewise, the woman in the joyless dark abyss of quiet abuse struggles between what she is experiencing every day and the never-satisfied tugging of the glory-light of womanhood. These longings we experience are sourced in the eternities. Like Lusseyran, we know someone is very much inside of us, someone watching deep within us. Residual glimmers of our Mother in Heaven conduct that inner watching. Her spirit DNA pulses through us. If we are wise, we will take notice and practice a new thought-alertness and listen with a new heart—a joy-filled heart, despite the chaotic circumstances of our world. These things are real and powerful but require a firm thought awareness. Thinking about what we are thinking about is essential to dispersing darkness and allowing joy to become a power within! I have seen battered or anxious women's darkest and most pitiful minds rise out of the dust of the ugliest mindsets by requiring the impossible from their bruised souls. Refusing fear is not just for prison camp hospitals.

The women I work with remind me of Lusseyran’s journey from blindness to joy. I have intimate knowledge of the superior magnificence of these women. They have traversed the gullies and mountain tops on their trek with Christ toward healing their troubled brains. Much like the crippling disconnect that the brain of an addict suffers, leaving one unable to make decisions based on spirit and recovery, the abused woman’s (or family member’s) mind is slowly brought to its knees. Her deep limbic or sympathetic nervous system resides in a state of alertness due to trauma, damaging her ability to find calm in the cells of her body and brain. Ultimately, her brain is damaged by synaptic and neurotransmitter dysfunctions that slowly reduce blood flow and structural integrity throughout her body. This is ridiculously simplified here, yet there is value in even partial clarity. As her mind catches hold of new ways of seeing her world and her place in it, the beautiful light of her inner woman, like a boxed sunbeam, will burst forth with perhaps the first professed moment of joy she has felt for years.

Against the Pollution of the I is similarly engaging and honest. Lusseyran does not shy away from forcefully requiring that we connect to the “light, life, and love that we attain when we open the possibility of a true inner life—the I.” Furthermore, he presses us to understand that our disabilities, losses, griefs, and failings are gifts. He claims that these are little deaths. If we are willing to let these things die in us, we will live anew. This is a clear message from the man who “didn’t die.” He claims that agency is the light of the soul. In this work, he makes a herculean attempt to help us accept and use the power of the I. “When we experience a wall, a loss, a misfortune, it is not God who erected this wall, but our spirit. It has stepped outside the everlasting creation. In reality, there is neither a wall nor a loss. Everything is replaceable and continuous” (Lusseyran-2, 44).

Finally, Lusseyran tries to define the nature of the light he lives in. “It is an element that we carry inside us and which can grow there with as much abundance, variety, and intensity as it can outside us. Maybe even more intently and in a more stable, better-balanced way, inside rather than outside.” Further, he comes to a point where “I could light myself. That is to say, I could create a light inside me so live, so large, and so near that [the area around my eyes] vibrated.” Lastly, he explains that we should never give way to the despair of brutal circumstances because, just as we stand firm, “the same sum of life is given back to us; that actually, everything in the universe adds up to continuity.” Losses are not confined to death camps or concrete cells (Lusseyran-2, 61–62, 82).

These are essential insights for women. Standing firm in the faith that we have the DNA of our Heavenly Mother coursing through our cells will not stop the losses but will magnify the gifts of life we will receive in the form of empowered light. Additionally, Lusseyran claims that by finding joy and light despite the darkness that surrounds us, practicing new thought alertness, and deliberately using our agency as an enlightened path of our soul, we can reach deep—even well beyond current circumstances to embrace our premortal powers of light as a consistent aid.

So, by clearing our minds of narrow, straw-like mindsets, we can let go of our pre-determined definitions of the gifts of womanhood. Our minds are freed to study, seek, and claim the light that is already part of our feminine beings. In partnership with our Mother in Heaven’s feminine gifts, while pondering any loss, grief, or wall we encounter, we will find that our capacity to create a space in our minds where beauty, safety, and the graces of motherhood can replace our worst fears and abuses.

So, as I see it, a connection is the key to the power of discernment which can dismiss our self-doubts and incorrect paradigms as we seek to understand and use this inner power of light from our Heavenly Parents. If Lusseryan is correct, this inner power dwells within us already; our task is to connect with it literally and cognitively.

We must find that inward light and keep it, as Lusseyran did, because womanhood has a premortal call to be the light bearers to the world. (Hudson Cassler, 95). There is a female calling that allows a woman to awaken the light within others. It is the most underestimated power in the world and women in general. Perhaps we are blind, trapped in fear, anxiety, depression, or sorrow because we do not know the way out, blind to the sorrow that surrounds our gender and blind to the light capacity we all carry within our womanhood that engenders our glory and strength.

Lusseyran was a real man living in an extraordinary time with equally magnificent sorrows paired with gifts. I confess that this woman’s heart was taught by this blind man who lived in the light I seek. I do not need to be sightless or go to a death camp to use light to bring joy when I am devastated by any loss. As women who love God, we have our color and style of sorrow, all of which will respond to the same life-saving power of our inner magnificent light. Even when the frustration swells within my mind because of the rampant horrors that women everywhere endure and that fire of indignation is blazing within me, I can feel the pull of someone deep within—watching. I am moved forward toward hope in Her glory and power. I trust that this someone is my Mother God. I have learned that blindness is no excuse—“Joy does not come from outside, for whatever happens to us it is within. Light does not come to us from without. Light is in us, even if we have no eyes” (Lusseyran-1, 280).

(For more by Michele Noel, see )


[1] Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. New York, W. W. Norton, 2003. [Back to manuscript].

[2] Hudson Cassler, Valerie. “The Story of Eve.” Women in Eternity, Women in Zion, Bonneville Books, 2004, p. 95. [Back to manuscript].

[3] Isaiah 2:5. King James Version, Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2006. [Back to manuscript].

[4] John 1:4-9. King James Version, Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2006. [Back to manuscript].

[5] Luke 15:11-32. King James Version, Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2006. [Back to manuscript].

[6] Lusseyran-1, Jacques. And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II. Translated by Elizabeth Ripley Cameron, New World Library, 2014. [Back to manuscript].

[7] Lusseyran-2, Jacques. Against the Pollution of the I: Selected Writings of Jacques Lusseyran. Parabola Books, 1999. [Back to manuscript].

Full Citation for this Article: Noel, Michele (2023) "Jacques Lusseyran’s And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II—What Lusseyran Teaches Women About Their Glory and Power," SquareTwo, Vol. 16 No. 2 (Summer 2023),, accessed <give access date>.

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