Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting. Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered.
For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears. This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the beautiful light began to make itself known. I am surrounded by rain forest and so the sounds of the Coquí and the other creatures that fill the night here are still the dominant soundtrack. Sitting here, using all my senses to watch, I see the sky turn first faintly pink, then orange. I can literally hear the approach of the sun and its light: first the sound of the Coquí drop out one by one, and then the birds begin to fill what might have been silence – the morning dove that I have seen flying about, and others that I cannot name. Right now, as I sit here, halfway between dawn and daylight, waiting for the first clear appearance of that round disk that brightens our world even through a day of clouds, I listen as nature recedes to the background, as humans begin to stir, and the background music for the day becomes man made.
Such a gift, such an exercise in mindfulness and awareness – that is what rising to greet the sun means to me. I’ll admit that I’ve taken a lot of push back over the years for my sun-worshiping ways. I’ve been called a pantheist, although, more accurately, I am really a panentheist, which, as Marcus Borg explains, is someone whose concept of sacred is a world in which God is both right here and beyond, both close and far away, encompassing everything and everyone. I’ve been made fun of for this by some of my more conservative friends, even by some church leaders who themselves have been known to love a good day communing with nature on a long walk in the woods. But if “seeing God in all things” was good enough for St. Ignatius, it is probably a good enough spiritual practice for me.
As I sit with the sunrise, I am practicing what those who embrace Ignatian ways might call micro-focus, sitting with and being fully aware of every little movement stirring around me. Or, some might say I was practicing a kind of visio divina (and maybe audite divina, because much of this experience is about listening), carefully observing the changes that flow with the morning light. I think it doesn’t matter what you call this practice; I was, to the best of my limited capability, experiencing a moment of deep awareness of the presence of God. And we must all do that work of seeing and experiencing God in our own way; we will all have a different awareness of God’s presence, so we must each find our own hearing of God’s call in the world.
Right now, many of us fear that the darkness is about to overtake the light. There are many signs in our world that this is not the truth, but we must do our part. We must get up in the dark, even when we would rather stay in bed. We must sit, and wait, and look. And then, when we find it, when the light comes into our field of vision, we must follow it, we must embrace it, we must nurture it, we must point it out to others.
I believe in light; I believe in its subversive power to be present in the darkness even when we cannot see it. I believe in its power to come to us if we just ask. We find God in all things, said St. Ignatius. Let there be light, said God. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, said the writer of the spiritual.
Light. Find it. Care for it. Let it shine. And know that it is still there, even when you cannot see it. It is subversive that way.